How To Remain Calm With People.

Very little makes me happier than when somebody looks at something from an angle that has never occurred to me before, which is exactly what The School Of Life does in this video on how to remain calm with people.

He presents our tendency to feel victimised when people inconvenience us in some way as a form of self-hatred, which I must say is quite a compelling argument:

Part of the reason why jump so readily to dark conclusions, and see plots to insult and harm us, os a rather poignant psychological phenomenon; self-hatred.

The less we like ourselves, the more we appear in our own eyes as really rather plausible targets for mockery and harm. Why would a drill have started up outside just as we were settling down to work? Why did the email not arrive even though we’ll have to be in a meeting very soon? Why would the phone operator be taking so long to find our details? Because there is, logically enough, a plot against us.

Because we’re appropriate targets for these kinds of things. Because we’re the sort of people against whom disruptive drilling is legitimately likely to be directed. It’s what we deserve.

I’m sure I’ll be a much calmer person if I just bear in mind how much everybody loves me…

How To Avoid Believing Something Dumb.

Hey! Did you know that aliens once attacked the Earth after a meteor crashed into a farmer’s field in New Jersey? Or that there are more trees on Earth than there are stars in the entire Milky Way? How about the fact that the coronavirus is actually a plot by Bill Gates to implant tracking…continue reading on Medium…
"Don’t believe everything you think."
What is consciousness?

Speaking of the way we perceive reality, this video by Michael Graziano delves into the topic of how our brains create our models of the world and ourselves.

…one recent theory is that consciousness is the brain’s imperfect picture of its own activity. To understand his theory, it helps to have a clear idea of one important way the brain processes information from our senses.

Based on sensory input, it builds models, which are continuously updating simplified descriptions of objects and events in the world. Everything know is based on these models. They never capture every detail of the things they describe, just enough for the brain to determine appropriate responses…

…our certainty that have a metaphysical, subjective experience, may come from one of the brain’s models. A cut-corner description of what it means to process information in a focused and deep manner.

How to trick your brain into enjoying difficult things.

Have you ever wondered why it’s so much easier to spend hours scrolling through social media or watching Youtube videos than it is to study or work on a project? This video from Better Than Yesterday does a fantastic job of explaining why your brain’s reward circuitry sometimes seems to work against your best interests, and how it can be tweaked with something called a dopamine detox:

For one whole day you will try to have as little fun as possible. You won’t be using the internet or any technology like your phone or computer. You’re not allowed to listen to music, you’re not allowed to masturbate or eat any junk food. Basically you’re going to remove all sources of external pleasure from the entire day.

You’re going to embrace boredom. And trust me, there will be a lot of boredom.

What Exactly Is A Toxic Person?

I recently read this article entitled “How to Pull Away from Toxic People, and Who to Replace Them With” and my first thought wasn’t “how can I get rid of the toxic people in my life?” but “isn’t it kind of toxic to think about people in terms of who does and doesn’t benefit you?”…continue reading on Medium…
The Best Mental Health Advice I’ve Ever Heard.

Johann Hari on the importance of looking at mental health from a social perspective as well as a pharmaceutical one. He cites the example of a a GP named Sam Everington who in addition to offering antidepressants, encouraged the patients who came to him with depression to work together to turn a pice of derelict land into a garden:

As they got to know each other, they did what human beings do when we form tribes and groups; they started to solve each others’ problems.

So for example one of the people in the group was sleeping on the bus was sleeping on a bus. Everyone else in the group was like “well of course you’re depressed, you’re sleeping on a bus! They started lobbying the local council to get him a house. They got him housed. It was the first time most of them had done something for someone else in years. That made them feel really good.

And the way Lisa put it to me “As the garden began to bloom, we began to bloom.”


Understanding Procrastination.

Psychology Today with a comprehensive guide to what procrastination is, what its consequences are, and how to beat it.

For habitual procrastinators, who represent approximately 20 percent of the population, “I don’t feel like it” comes to take precedence over their goals or responsibilities, and can set them on a downward spiral of negative emotions that further deter future effort.

Procrastination also involves a degree of self-deception: At some level, procrastinators are aware of their actions and the consequences, but changing their habits requires even greater effort than completing the task in front of them.

Well worth a read. Especially if you’re looking for something to take your mind off that big project that’s due tomorrow…

Who Are You Really? The Puzzle Of Personality.

Brian Little (an introvert) gives an absolute fantastic (and hilarious) talk about the ways in which personality influences behaviour and communication:

So the person who seconded him asked Tom, and me, “What do you make of Michael?” Well, I’ll tell you what Tom said in a minute. He spoke in classic Extrovertese. And here is how extroverted ears heard what I said. Which is actually pretty accurate.

I said “Well, Michael does have a tendency at times, of behaving in a way that some of us might see as perhaps more assertive than is normally called for.”

Tom rolled his eyes and said “Brian! That’s what I said. He’s an asshole!”

Now as an introvert I might gently allude to certain assholic qualities in this man’s behaviour, but I’m not gonna lunge for the A-word!


How technology changes our brains.

An excellent interview with Nicholas Carr, author of “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.” The central thesis of Carr’s book is that the internet hasn’t just changed how we access information, but how our brains treat it:

My brain, I realized, wasn’t just drifting, it was hungry. It was demanding to be fed the same way the net fed it — and the more it was fed, the hungrier it became.

The taste gap.

An absolute gem from Ira Glass on the the challenges of starting out doing creative work.

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.

A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.

More people than ever (including myself) are branching out into creative projects, and sadly, most of us will fail.

Remember, creative people don’t fail because they aren’t any good, they fail because they quit before they figured out how to be.