Archive for the 'Zen' Category

MONTGOMERY SCOTT UNDERSTOOD THE CONCEPT…

January 30th, 2015

In one recent experiment, by the Harvard Business School researchers Ryan Buell and Michael Norton, people using a flight-search site actually preferred waiting 60 seconds over getting instant results, provided they got to look at what appeared to be a running tally of the tasks being executed. This may also be why some voice-recognition customer […]

THE RELENTLESS TASK OF KEEPING SOBER…

January 23rd, 2015

As I struggle with preserving my weight loss from 2012—265 pounds to 185 pounds—Johnny Lee Miller, in the character of a 21st century Sherlock Holmes, nails the challenge; and no one who has not faced the challenge can ever understand why just do it is the most asinine bromide ever conceived. Drip…

EMAIL BEATS STURGEON’S LAW…

January 20th, 2015

I encountered a troublingly accurate insight from Jason Fried, of the forward-thinking software firm 37Signals: spam is a way of thinking about life. Unsolicited email is only its most acute expression. “Spam is just throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what sticks,” he told me. “It’s not really communicating. It’s harassing […]

ALTER YOUR ENVIRONMENT, NOT YOUR HABITS…

January 14th, 2015

[I]t’s not that failures of will cause poverty. It’s that poverty causes failures of will. Anti-poverty initiatives, [analyst Jamie] Holmes argues, should focus far more on relieving these cognitive costs. He praises one Philippines bank that lets customers choose a date before which they can’t access their money – a “commitment mechanism” of the sort […]

THE INTERNALIZING POWER OF GOING ANALOG…

January 2nd, 2015

Yet the reason I’ve started keeping a real, pen-and-paper commonplace book is that the social power of the web, awesome though it is, doesn’t confer the same benefits. There’s something important about exploring ideas privately as well as collectively. Indeed, there’s something about promiscuous online bookmarking and highlighting that seems antithetical to commonplacing. Because the […]

BUSYWORK IS APTLY NAMED…

December 31st, 2014

THE IMPORTANCE OF RAISING A CLENCHED FIST…

December 30th, 2014

We’re accustomed to thinking of bodily movements as following from mental processes: of the body, in other words, as the marionette of the brain. Embodied cognition implies the situation may be more complex. Which raises a cheering possibility, given how much easier it usually is to control our body’s movements than our mental lives: might […]

EMAIL TIME…

December 8th, 2014

It’s always nice to encounter scientific backing for advice you’ve been dispensing to your friends for years, whether or not they ever actually asked for it – so I was pleased to learn of a new study lending support to the notion that if you check email less frequently, you’ll be less stressed. As Jesse […]

WHAT AM I MEANT TO BE DOING…?

December 8th, 2014

AND A BOOK!

December 8th, 2014

Oliver Burkeman adds…

MARCUS AURELIUS KNEW NOS. 2-10…

November 7th, 2014

1. Step away from the email 2. Just say no 4. Leave work at work 5. Forget about perfection 6. Don’t be a martyr 7. Ease off the adrenaline 8. Think about retirement 9. Make ’em wait 10. Set your own rules Stuart Jeffries writing in Ten tips for a better work-life balance for The […]

ON THE SUBJECT OF GENIUS…

November 7th, 2014

For sometime I have had my personal aphorism on the subject of genius—Genius is doing the work… Now!—taped to the top of my laptop screen. I’ve even gone so far as to have the copyrighted phrase printed on pencils that I both use and distribute to my students. This morning I was reminded of another […]

DEMANDING, AND RECEIVING, SATISFACTION…

November 5th, 2014

Social psychologists use the dull term “self-schema” to describe the mental maps we use to make sense of our own personalities: we think of ourselves as traditional or conven­tional, self-disciplined or lazy, optimistic or pessimistic. Yet when researchers try to measure such things, they run into people who are “aschematic”: they’ve simply never given much […]

THREE PRACTICAL DECISION STRATEGIES…

November 4th, 2014

1) 5-3-1: A dependable tactic for two people choosing a restaurant or movie: one person picks five options, the other narrows the field to three, then the first person selects one. This “has saved me and my girlfriend from starving to death on more than one occasion”, writes one commenter at ask.metafilter.com. Hint: couples should […]

KNOWING TO DO THE NEXT RIGHT ACTION…

October 22nd, 2014

[T]he potential uses of checklists in everyday life—a list for holiday packing, say, or for getting the kids out of the house every morning (there are hundreds of examples at checklists.com) – aren’t usually matters of life and death. But they are similar in this respect: the idea of making a checklist is so stupidly […]

WORK HARD TO BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE…

October 20th, 2014

[d]emystifying passion “is liberating. It frees you from obsession over whether you are doing the ‘right’ thing with your life,” says Cal Newport. Almost any interest “can be transformed into a passion with hard work, so there’s no reason to sweat choices such as [a university degree] or your first post-college career.” If you’re fortunate […]

OUR FANTASIES SAP OUR MOTIVATION…

October 16th, 2014

[P]icturing an imaginary glass of water might make people less motivated to get up and head to the watercooler or the tap in order to quench their real, non-imaginary thirst. This conclusion is precisely the reverse of one of the central tenets of pop psychology: the idea that picturing the future you desire makes it […]

YOU ARE WHERE YOU FIND YOURSELF…

October 7th, 2014

We think we’re making a fresh start when really we’re only adjusting one or two of countless variables. But there’s a deeper problem: the concept of the fresh start suggests a very bizarre notion of the self. It implies that you can “stand back” from your personality characteristics, nominate some of them for change, then […]

FINDING A BETTER WAY TO FEEL COMFORTED…

October 6th, 2014

The subtler problem is that we tend to think about habit change wrongly. (I’m not talking about physiological addictions.) We get trapped in a paradox: we want to, say, stop watching so much TV, but on the other hand, demonstrably, we also want to watch lots of TV – after all, we keep doing it […]

REAL EXPERTS ARE TOO BUSY DOING…

October 5th, 2014

[T]here’s something jarring about being told, say, how to manage your time by someone who spends their life immersed in time-management systems: the rest of us don’t have time to live like that, which is kind of the whole point. Or take the pop-psychology cliché of discovering your “life purpose”. This might be a valid […]

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