luni, 7 octombrie 2013

Insights today

First. From an interesting discussion about WOW in-game economy steamed an nice affirmation: 'in capitalism we pay for laziness'. If we have to accomplish boring tasks and we outsource, we pay in fact for our laziness. (indeed, if I were you, I'd tell myself that through outsourcing we can focus on other tasks. Now it would be interesting to see if the value of those tasks is the same or higher?).

Second. I was passing by some trees today, and suddenly I noticed the change in color, from the beautiful green to the earthy color of brown. I love this change, it is different and made me eager for the future. For me, change is great. I like experimenting the new. But then one thought came to me. We (humans) change in the same manner, suddenly we observe that we are not the same person as we were a few months or years ago (doh). But we are with ourselves (of course) all the time. But we do not realize the change when it happens.
Even if the change is unconscious it still has effects on the observed behavior. It's such a big deal for me, because we lose track on who we are now and with what consequence did the event leave us.

Third. I like people who smile (more applicable for informal interactions, but also to some formal ones). When I see this sparkle in their eyes I find them more charming. On the opposite side, people that are serious and solemn I find them very boring! (I think I am in the last category, most of the times serious. Not good, not good). But I'm in the process of change :)

joi, 23 mai 2013

The power of context. Do you believe in luck?

The Spanish have an interesting saying: 
"Nacer con estrella o nacer estrellado"
Translated into English it would sound: "be born with a star or be born defeated". I was explained this phenomenon by an example: when sitting through a life-defining exam where you have to get at least 5 out of 10 to pass it, the star people manage to get the 5.1 they need, but the "estrelladors" will get the 4.9.

I was surprised because they stressed so much the importance of context, whereas in my opinion the thoughts of a person are more important then the context, something similar to "you make your own luck". However, I am also in favor of this 'stochastic' view, where luck and the surroundings play a great part of your success.

I started wandering. Do we create the context with our thoughts? or the context forms our thoughts? 

In my example, I usually write down what I want in the future and surprisingly I get it. Most of the times I get more then I request, therefore I reached the conclusion that I am lucky and I always get what I want or I need. But sometimes I also get unexpected surprises, both positive and negative. If they are positive I reinforce my belief that I am lucky if they are negative, I see the good part in the situation (from my experience, there was always a good/ great part, this is how I got to start many important projects in my life). Of course I feel down for a moment, but I am training myself to get over it as quickly as possible and to start focusing on other projects. Frankly, I didn't use to agree 100% with "you make your own luck", but after my experiences, I agree.

I am curious how others experience this saying. Do you believe in the power of the context or do you create the context? Thinking of your experience is the best way to determine on which side you are.

luni, 20 mai 2013

If ancestors knew about it, why don't we apply it today? (+solution)

In 1600 ad. Shakespeare wrote a play "The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark" and inside it, between ingenious lines, it is one: "For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so". At first sight it appeared to me a general truth ("duh, of course!") I wanted to skip it because I know it! but then I realized that people seldom practice it. Even I, in weak moments I lose control of my thoughts and make a catastrophic event out of nothing. However, I was thought to think positive (I am lucky with my mother) and to see the good part in every bad part and even so, my negative emotions get to me sometimes.

My question is: If somebody in 1600 ad. wrote this fundamental idea and many more since then talked about it, why people today don't practice it? 

There is a paradox here because I know the truth in this statement, however I cannot put it in practice all the time. For me it happens mostly related to high desires, when I really really want something and I am afraid of not having it. In low desire situations or when I realize my slip to the cloudy side I meta-think, I see my thoughts and I have power to change the direction.

But I am puzzled how ideas from 1600 ad. that are out there and people around me know about them, reach me later in life. These type of ideas are indispensable for a great living but are ignored, or difficult to put in practice. How should be find and apply them in our lives so we can live better?

I like the 'implementation intentions technique" it is a genius marketing tool to get customers buy from you. It implies that if individuals set an objective that has both an action and a time frame, they will do it in 67% of the time eg "I want to do X in Y weeks". Since I found out about this technique I use it all the time, amazingly it works!
But I would really want to find out other solutions; If you have any ideas, please do leave a comment. 

sâmbătă, 18 mai 2013

Control your impulsiveness, become a charismatic person

I was an impulsive person; When I heard ideas that contradicted my thoughts, I usually felt the inner urge to react quickly and defensively. I thought this was ok, until two things happen: first I hurt the persons I love most and second I saw this behavior in others  and repealed me. I realized that I couldn't go like this any longer and I must change.

I was taking everything personally, as an offense to me (emotional, intellectual) therefore began to fight back. The other person felt that aggressiveness and responded in the same way, becoming resistant to my information, rejecting me as a conversation party. However, I dislike confrontation therefore I usually stopped before things got ugly. Anyway, this behavior was not at all healthy! 

My change: out of love and logic. Once I realized that my behavior was unhealthy I began to control my reactions. It wasn't something conscious or planned, I just started doing so. It was during a workshop, in which I had a pact with others on a matter but one person lied and broke the pact in his favor. I felt betrayed and hurt, I wanted to make him pay, but this time something was different. instead of action, I understood my feelings and rationalized them. I knew that were normal feelings, everybody felt that way but there was something more at stake, the common goal, that required us to become a team again and trust each other again. Not everybody could understand that and control their feelings, therefore we lost. But that day I won, I won the battle over my feelings, realizing that emotional reaction can be controlled.     

It was a moment of clarity for me, unknown to me before. I could stop that domino effect of my emotion -reaction, I rationally understood it, I understood that it was a normal emotion but this time I saw the long term effect instead of letting myself react on the short term. Being emotional meant losing, therefore giving in to my urge meant losing the game. 

This might appear a small step for some, but for me was a huge huge step for a better judgment!  

PS. this is about negative emotions and their consequences. not positive! there is a big distinction between these two emotions 

vineri, 10 mai 2013

The secret to happiness. 21 days. Scientifically proven

Shawn Achor gave a great speech for TedxTalks, here you can find the link

In short  the main ideas to become happier in 21 days are: 

3 Gratitudes (Emmons & McCulough 2003)
  • Write down 3 new things each day that you are grateful for. After 21 days the brain will start to retain a pattern of scanning the world for not the negative, but the positive first.  
Journaling (Slatcher & Pennebaker 2006)
  • Writing down one positive experience that you had in the last 24-hours allows your brain to relive that experience.
Exercise (Babyak 2006)
  • Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters. 
Meditation (Dwek 2007)
  • This teaches us focus and getting over the nuisance of trying to do multiple tasks at once. It allows our brains to focus on the task at hand. Download one of the many meditation tracks and listen to for 20-30 minutes each day.
Random Acts of Kindness (Lyubomirsky 2005)
  • Write one positive email every morning when opening your inbox to someone in your social support network thanking them or praising them.
I found the shortcut version on Alex Hetland's blog. His post was inspiring and insightful!  

joi, 9 mai 2013

Life as a train journey

From my trip in Amsterdam I learnt two life lessons. 

First. The most important is the balance, between making plans and rethink them along the way.

If you lost a train, another will come. You can change the trains, stop at different stations, change the line, take another. Until you reach your destination. than you can relax.
Maybe this is our life, a continuous train journey. Some take the same train, they are afraid to change it, to stop and admire a city in their way. Other, the successful ones, make a plan, take one train, when the direction change, they get off, step on the platform, look around, if they like what they see they try the place, when they learned everything they continue their journey. At the destination, they are happy, content with their journey, they feel accomplished and content. they can be at peace.

The second life teach is: be smart in communication. Avoid arguments, they never lead to something good. First, you cannot change the other’s opinion using rational arguments. Second, being a smart ass leads to resistance and avoidance from the other party. My resolution is to listen to others, and communicate only the important aspects. I would love to be patient and to know others better, listen more to them, talk less and only the essential. Really listen and really hear them. Don’t fill in the gaps, but listen with the “innocence of a child”, and by that I mean, no judgment, no expectations, no hurry but with openness.

Make others see your point of view by questions, not statements, don’t give you opinion but only at the end of the conversations, and only if it is requested. Don’t think that I try to transform you in a brainless person, with no opinions and no power. No, not at all.
If anybody want from others anything in life, the hard way is not the way, never; But collaboration, trust and closeness (understanding). And these qualities can be acquired by the techniques mentioned above. 

sâmbătă, 16 februarie 2013

Half truths & becoming a recognised expert

I avoid definitive statments, I always did. Although I have to admit that I like determination and security, but I also have to face the truth: we don’t know much. 
All today’s definitions and truths will be questioned tomorrow, adapted or erased. Especially regarding our behavior.

We see ourselves as scientists because we might have scholar education, we might have read many books, maybe we worked a life-time in the industry or conducted research studies, but still we are amazed by inexplicable behavior. We are continuously changing, unpredictable and irrational; reacting differently to events, sometimes utterly unusual. There is so much more to discover/ explain about the brain, our central unit of processing.

The good news: this behavior, if noticed, can be explained. However, some see the reactions before happening and benefit from their effects. To become an expert, this would be the most precious ability to be acquired.

So, can we actually say ‘I know it for sure?’.

Ps. I must agree that some old explications are true even today, but few.