Archive for the 'Zen' Category

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 […]

GONE THINKING…

September 24th, 2014

For the next 10 days, Thursday, 25 September through through Saturday, 4 October, I will be on retreat and enjoying an Electronic Fast. I’ll be reachable by phone and I’ll check emails once a day for emergencies, but don’t expect any new posts until Sunday, 5 October. Enjoy.

THE CROWN OF SELF CONTROL

September 19th, 2014

Calmness is the rarest quality in human life. It is the poise of a great nature, in harmony with itself and its ideals. It is the moral atmosphere of a life self-centred, self-reliant, and self-controlled. Calmness is singleness of purpose, absolute confidence, and conscious power, ready to be focused in an instant to meet any […]

ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY INDEX CARD…

September 17th, 2014

I am obsessed with index cards. A number of us, actually, suffer from this condition. For several years, the largely blog-based movement known as “lifehacking” has embraced the unassuming index card as an unrivalled tool for personal organisation – a dirt-cheap, portable medium for keeping lists, taking notes, brainstorming, memorising, organising your schedule, or leaving […]

SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY

September 16th, 2014

We face a “coming dark age”, cautions Maggie Jackson in Distracted, one of the better recent works on the topic. She fears an “attention-deficit future” in which we’ll live shallow, fragmented, joyless lives, robbed of our powers of “deep focus”. It doesn’t disprove this thesis to observe that people have been saying similar things at […]

HOW LOW CAN YOU GO…?

September 16th, 2014

WHEN WRITING, WRITE…

September 15th, 2014

My favourite anecdote about the novelist Anthony Trollope—no less noteworthy, I like to think, for also being my only anecdote about Anthony Trollope—concerns his writing habits. Each morning, before leaving for his job at the post office, he wrote for three hours. (“Three hours a day,” he reckoned, “will produce as much as a man […]

FIGHT HOMOPHILY: GET AROUND MORE…

September 14th, 2014

The faintly depressing human tendency to seek out and spend time with those most similar to us is known in social science as “homophily”, and it shapes our views, and our lives, in ways we’re barely aware of. It explains why, if you know the political positions of a person’s friends, you can predict their […]

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