Universal Laws of the World

If something is true in one field it’s probably true in others. Restricting your attention to your own field blinds you to how many important things people from other fields have figured out that are relevant to your own. Here are a few laws – some scientific, some not – from specific fields that hold universal truths.

Littlewood’s law: We can expect “miracles” to happen regularly, because in a world with 7 billion people the odds of a one-in-a-billion event are pretty good.  John Littlewood was a mathematician who sought to debunk the idea of miracles being anything more than simple statistics. Physicist Freeman Dyson, who from what I gather named the law, explains,    ”Littlewood’s law of miracles states that in the course of any normal person’s life, miracles happen at the rate of roughly one per month. The proof of the law is simple. During the time that we are awake and actively engaged in living our lives, roughly for eight hours each day, we see and hear things happening at a rate of one per second. So, the total number of events that happen to us is about 30,000 per day, or about a million per month. With few exceptions, these events are not miracles because they are insignificant. The chance of a miracle is about one per million events. Therefore, we should expect about one miracle to happen, on the average, every month.”

Littlewood did most of his work in the 20th century. He would, I think, double down on the law today because social media has opened the door into other people’s lives and given tail events a spotlight like never before. Daniel Kahneman has a related take: “Human beings cannot comprehend very large or very small numbers. It would be useful for us to acknowledge that fact.”

Gibson’s law: “For every PhD there is an equal and opposite PhD.” In law and public policy, the observation that equally qualified expert witnesses can come to opposite conclusions. There is no field this doesn’t apply to, and it happens for three reasons. One, is that there’s nuance and context to almost everything involving people, so experts can seem like they’re coming to different conclusions when discussing a variation of the same topic. Harry Truman said he just wanted a one-handed economist – “Every time you come in here you say, ‘On the one hand this, on the other hand that.” But that’s how most things work. Gibson’s law is triggered when an expert – often in an innocent attempt to simplify for a lay audience – tells one side of a story that has many sides, offsets, and counterbalances. A second, is that training and data can be overwhelmed by ideological beliefs and life experiences. This is especially true in fields that study people. There are no conservative meteorologists or liberal geologists, but we happily accept the equivalent in economics and sociology. A third, is that incentives are the most powerful force in the world. They not only get people to say things that aren’t true, but actually believe those things if it’s in their career interest to do so.

Brandolini’s law: “The amount of energy needed to refute bullsh*t is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.” Coined by Italian software developer Albert Brandolini, who also refers to it as the Bullsh*t Asymmetry Principle. Prevalent in every field, the non-satirical version acknowledges four truths: 1.People don’t like to admit not understanding something, so when confronted with nonsense they are more likely to nod their heads than say “I don’t get it” – especially in a group setting. 2. In law, the reason the burden of proof lies with the prosecution is that it’s often impossible to prove something didn’t happen. Outside of the courtroom the opposite rule prevails, and the commentator is allowed to give an opinion but the critic must debunk him with evidence.3.There is a thriving market for bad commentary because they give readers intellectual cover against their own biases, prejudices, and incentives. When many people want bad commentary to be right it becomes harder to convince them that it’s wrong. 4. The barriers to entry to publishing an opinion have dropped precipitously in the last two decades.

Goodhart’s law: When a measure becomes a target, it stops being a good measure. Charles Goodhart is an economist who recognized that once a central bank set a specific monetary target, the historical relationship between that target leading to the outcome they want breaks down.    ”[T]hose subject to new policies and regulations will react in different, and often unexpected ways, [and] also takes cognizance of the fact that, having set a new policy target, the authority involved has some reputational credibility attached to successfully meeting that target, and thus may adjust its own behavior and procedures to that end.” One reason this happens in other fields: once a goal is set, people will optimize for that goal in a way that neglects equally important parts of a system. Task your company with hitting a big sales target and customer service may wither as the goal cannibalizes employees’ attention. Or they’ll game the system to meet a goal in a way that distorts the benefit of achieving that goal. Investors set quarterly earnings goals for a CEO to meet, with a huge incentive if they’re exceeded. Then stuff like this happens.” [General Electric] for two years in a row “sold” locomotives to unnamed financial partners instead of end users in transactions that left most of the risks of ownership with GE.   The sales in 2003 and 2004 padded revenue by $381 million … critical to meeting GE’s end-of-year numbers. This is a cousin of observer effects in physics: It’s hard to know how some things operate in the real world because the act of measuring them changes them.”

Dollo’s law: In evolution, organisms can’t re-evolve to a former state because the path that led to its former state was so complicated that the odds of retracing that exact path round to zero. Say, an animal has a tail, and then it evolves to lose its tail. The odds that it will ever evolve to regain a tail are nil, because the path that originally gave it a tail was so complex. This affects businesses, too. There are things that, once lost, will likely never be regained, because the chain of events that created them in the first place can’t easily be replicated. Brand is one. Good brands are hard to build, requiring the right product at the right time targeted to the right users who want a specific thing, produced the right way by the right people, all done with consistency. Once lost brand is very hard to regain, because the odds of building a successful brand in the first place were so low to begin with. Teams can be another. Success is often personalized among one person, discounting how important members of their team were to winning. Many star employees have joined another firm, or gone out on their own, only to realize how much of their prior success was due to the unique team they were on, not necessarily their individual skill that can be replicated elsewhere.

Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. In 1955 historian Cyril Parkinson wrote in The Economist, ” IT is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Thus, an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and dispatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis. An hour will be spent in finding the postcard, another in hunting for spectacles, half-an-hour in a search for the address, an hour and a quarter in composition, and twenty minutes in deciding whether or not to take an umbrella when going to the pillar-box in the next street. The total effort which would occupy a busy man for three minutes all told may in this fashion leave another person prostrate after a day of doubt, anxiety and toil.” His point was that resources can exceed needs without people noticing. The number of employees in an organization is not necessarily related to the amount of work that needs to be done in that organization. Workers will find something to do – or the appearance of doing something – regardless of what needs to be done.

Several corollaries exist. One is that expenses expand to fill an income. Same for expectations and success. In IT, data can expand to fill a given level of storage. My phone used to hold a few hundred photos; now it holds many thousands. I’ve taken advantage of that storage increase by filling it with many thousands of stupid photos I’ll never care about.

Wiio’s laws: “Communication usually fails, except by accident.” Osmo Wiio, a Finnish journalist and member of parliament, coined several laws of communication, including,“If a message can be understood in different ways, it will be understood in just that way which does the most harm.” “The more communication there is, the more difficult it is for communication to succeed.” “In mass communication, the important thing is not how things are but how they seem to be.” Wiio made these laws in the era of carefully hand-written letters. Multiply them by 10 in the emoji and social media intern era. I could elaborate further but no one would understand.

Sayre’s law: In a dispute, emotions are inversely related to what’s at stake. In 1973 the Wall Street Journal wrote,”Academics love to lay down laws. One of the more famous is attributed to the late Wallace Sayre of Columbia University. Sayre’s Third Law of Politics—no one seems to know the first two, or whether there even were a first two–holds that “academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.” As far as I can tell no one quotes Sayre saying the line himself. But like many smart sayings it found a deceased owner and never let go. The logic might go something like this, wwhen the stakes are actually high people within a culture have a pretty good track record of putting more of their differences aside for a common cause. You bicker when there’s little downside to doing so.  The part of your brain whose bandwidth deals with threats doesn’t like to stay still. There’s a baseline level of stress people need in their lives to keep their minds alert, and if they don’t get it from legitimate sources, they’ll find something meaningless to fret about. Many of you know a trust-funder who validates this theory.

Stigler’s law: No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer. University of Chicago statistician Stephen Stigler coined the law. For consistency he says he stole it from sociologist Robert Merton. Stigler writes in his book Statistics on the Table, ” Examples affirming this principle must be known to every scientist with even a passing interest in the history of his subject; in fact, I suspect that most historians of science, both amateur and professional, have had their interest fueled early in their studies by the discovery (usually accompanied by an undisguised chortle) that some famous named result was known (and better understood) by a worker a generation before the result’s namesake.”

I think this happens for two reasons. One is that few discoveries happen in isolation. Most are combinations of existing discoveries that solve a new problem with an old invention. In his book How We Got to Now, Steven Johnson writes,” Innovations usually begin life with an attempt to solve a specific problem, but once they get into circulation, they end up triggering other changes that would have been extremely difficult to predict … An innovation, or cluster of innovations, in one field ends up triggering changes that seem to belong to a different domain altogether.” Combining other people’s work into something you get credit for happens within companies, too. Bill Gates put it: “Steve [Jobs] and I will always get more credit than we deserve, because otherwise the story’s too complicated.” The other – and more applicable to Stigler’s law – is the long history of the crowned winner being the person who communicates an idea the best, not whose idea is the best. A pop psychology book will always sell better than deep academic research with original discoveries because people are busy and lazy and want to learn about a topic with the least amount of effort required. My impression is also that 90% of “viral” content that gets recognized is luck, the product of just the right promotion by just the right person at just the right time.

Mill Mistakes: Assuming the familiar is the optimal. James Mill was a 19th century Scottish economist who reasoned that a constitutional monarchy is the highest natural form of government. He had his logic, and arguing whether its right isn’t the point. In his book At Home in the Universe, Stuart Kauffman makes a good observation, ”James Mill once deduced from what he considered indubitable first principles that a constitutional monarchy remarkably like that on England in his day was obviously the highest form of government. One is always in danger of deducing the optimality of the familiar. Let’s call this a Mill-mistake. God knows we all suffer the danger.” Assuming the familiar is the optimal requires extra skepticism because what you’re familiar with will create the most coherent story in your head, giving it extra credit points over other ideas that might hold more water but are harder to contextualize. Daniel Kahneman writes, ” Neither the quantity nor the quality of the evidence counts for much in subjective confidence. The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little. We often fail to allow for the possibility that evidence that should be critical to our judgment is missing—what we see is all there is.”

 Hickam’s dictum: Problems in complex systems rarely have one cause. Occam’s razor in medicine guides doctors to a diagnostic rule of thumb along the lines of, “If there are several explanations for a patient’s symptoms, choose the one that makes the fewest assumptions.” It’s known as diagnostic parsimony. Doctor John Hickam once pointed out the limitations of this rule: “Patients can have as many diseases as they damn well please.” His observation was that a patient is statistically more likely to have a few common ailments than a single rare one, so the push to get to one grand underlying cause can lead to false precision at best, misdiagnosis at worst.

The human body has 11 systems, 79 organs, 206 bones, and 600 muscles. The global economy has 7 billion people and 200 million businesses. So, you do the math.

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Courtesy : Morgan Housel @ collaborativefund.com

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Truths of Life

The route to our destination is never a straight one. We take questionable turns and we get lost. But it doesn’t always matter which road we embark on; what matters is that we embark. Either way life will likely get a little complicated, and bring unexpected hurdles and changes. But that’s okay. Sometimes you have to stumble and feel weak for a little while to realize how strong you really are. The following are just a few simple truths we learn on the road of life…

  • Real friends won’t ask you to change who you are. The right people for you will love all the things about you that the wrong people are intimidated by. Don’t change so people will like you. Be patient, keep being your awesome self, and pretty soon the right people will love the real
  • Cheating is a choice, not a mistake, and not an excuse. If you decide to cheat, and you succeed in cheating someone out of something, don’t think that this person is a fool. Realize that this person trusted you much more than you ever deserved, and they learned a lesson about who you really are.
  • The past can’t hurt you anymore, not unless you let it. Forgive and move on! Forgiveness allows you to focus on the future without combating the past. Without forgiveness, wounds can never be healed, and moving on can never be accomplished. What happened in the past is just one chapter. Don’t close the book, just turn the page. Cry when you must and push forward. Let your tears water the seeds of your future growth and happiness.
  • Adversity will come to every person at some point. How you meet it, what you make of it, and what you allow it to take from you and give to you is determined by your mental habits and personal choices. In short, you can’t change the cards you were dealt, just how you play the hand.
  • Sometimes things fall apart so better things can fall together. When things fall apart, consider the possibility that life knocked it down on purpose. Not to bully you, or to punish you, but to prompt you to build something that better suits your personality and your purpose.
  • Someone else doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right. Keep an open mind. The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know. We all have our own unique path and feelings. When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.
  • Everything has been just the way it needed to be. In life, we do lots of things. Some we wish we could take back. Some we wish we could relive a thousand times. All of these things, positive and negative, have taught us important lessons and have collectively made us into the person we are today. If we were to reverse or adjust any of them, we wouldn’t be who we are; we would be somebody else. So just live, make mistakes, make memories, and take chances. Never second guess who you are or where you’ve been.
  • Silence is often the loudest cry. There’s always some truth behind ‘just kidding,’ knowledge behind ‘I don’t know,’ emotion behind ‘I don’t care,’ and pain behind ‘It’s okay.’ So, pay close attention to how people feel, especially those you care for most. And remember, silence is often the loudest cry. Sometimes what a person needs most is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
  • The difference between where you are and where you want to be, is what you do. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. Don’t wait until everything is just right; it will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. But with each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more skilled, more confident, and more successful. So, start doing what you need to do today. Life is a courageous journey or nothing at all. We usually can’t become who we want to be by continuing to do what we’ve been doing.
  • It’s not who you are that holds you back, it who you think you’re not. Judging yourself is not the same as being honest with yourself. Don’t sell yourself short. You are capable of great things. And don’t ever let someone else make you feel like you’re not good enough. If they can’t see how amazing you are, then they’re the one who’s not good enough for you.  Their approval is not needed.
  • Right now, is the only moment guaranteed to you. Smile through the hard times, even though it doesn’t always seem to get any better. A smile is the first step to fixing things. The trick is to enjoy life by noticing what’s right. Don’t wish away your days waiting for better times ahead. Right now, is the only moment guaranteed to you. Right now, is life.  Don’t miss it.

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The Art of Mindfulness

The world doesn’t need another nasty person because it already has more than enough and there’s no shortage of rude people out there. What it needs are people who are polite, modest, agreeable, and kind. In short, people who are mindful and charming.

The good news is that mindfulness is an attitude and a skill that you can learn.  Most people, have trouble turning on their charm but they don’t have to worry even if they are not innately charming. Here are some easy-to-master tips on being mindful and developing an attitude of mindfulness :

Respect people. When people meet someone who is respectful, they will feel naturally drawn to that person. When they find someone who respects their opinion, their point of view, their experiences, and whatever else they’re trying to communicate, it will make them feel important. You don’t have to always agree. Showing respect is enough.

Show a little vulnerability. The beauty of showing vulnerability is that it makes us more humane. There’s no reason to hide it. Charming people don’t try to win unstated competitions with the people they meet. There’s nothing more charming than owning up to your vulnerabilities and rising above them. Charming people compliment, get impressed, ask questions, feel excited, and are willing to admit their weaknesses.  In short, they don’t compete with other people’s achievements. They are not afraid to let their defenses fall because they know their weaknesses don’t control them.

Talk less, listen more. One major sign of superficial people is that they talk about themselves all the time. But a charming person listens more than he talks. You can cut out all of the distractions when you talk to someone because by just listening to the other person you are giving importance to him. When someone is talking, it can be tempting to interrupt especially when you have the same experiences but, it is selfish and rude to do so. By listening more, you will earn the trust of the person divulging sensitive information to you. And, this is backed by the research conducted by the State University of New York.

Remember people’s names. How awkward it is to forget other people’s names. I’m sure you have felt that sinking feeling when you forget someone’s name, especially if it is someone you really should remember. Of course, our memory fails us sometimes. Nobody’s perfect, right? However, charming people remember names. They try their best to remember even small details. For the other person, there is nothing sweeter than hearing their name. It makes them feel they’re important enough to be remembered by you. When you’re first being introduced to someone, repeat their name back to him or her. That’s enough to emphasize that at least you care enough to remember them. What matters most is that you made an effort to remember.

Practice the right body language. Communication is not only through words  but also through body language. When talking to someone, a charming person’s body language exudes quiet confidence and openness. Their arms are open and their legs are relaxed, which makes them approachable. If you have a problem in this area, work on being comfortable in your own skin. Most people who tend to cross their arms could be revealing insecurities and the fact that they are uncomfortable.

Use the right tone of voice. Your tone of voice is also incredibly important. Communication experts always mention the “7-38-55 rule,” first posited in 1971 by UCLA Psychology Professor Albert Mehrabian: 55 percent of what you convey when you speak comes from your body language, 38 percent from your tone of voice, and a paltry 7 percent from the words you choose. Therefore, avoid shouting or coming across as aggressive. You can do this by using a relaxed and gentle tone of voice. Be assertive but without being defensive or aggressive.

Use the right words. Keep conversation friendly and professional at all times by using polite language. Try and keep every word positive. Talking about polite, professional and happy things will draw people to you. Whenever you notice yourself complaining or being negative, try to stop yourself and reframe it something into more positive. Overtime, you’ll get in the habit of being more positive, and less negative.

Smile. When you smile, others feel comfortable. Everyone loves a happy person, right? Your happy state of mind will shine through and will make you very likable to others. Grumpy or disinterested people scare people away. You never know all the good that a simple smile can do. In fact, a smile can literally rewire your brain to be happier. Psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people whose ability to frown is compromised by cosmetic Botox injections are happier, on average, than people who frown. Likewise, NBC says that research suggests that a smile spurs a powerful chemical reaction in the brain that can make people feel better.

Praise others instead of getting involved in gossip. There will be a time when you meet people who love to gossip. These are people who talk about others in a negative way. At the very first sign of gossip, run away. If you can’t, just don’t get involved. Instead, say something really positive about the person they’re talking about. If you want to charm people, steer clear from backstabbing and gossiping. It’s not nice and it only creates toxic energy. Never be afraid to compliment people directly on their face. Research shows getting a sincere compliment gives us a similar positive boost as receiving cash.

Find other people’s interests. If you find yourself in a situation where the conversation is slow, try to discover the other person’s hobbies or passions. Make it about them and not about you. Ask about their hobbies. Do they like basketball or baseball? Do they like traveling? You will know when you find a topic that they’re interested in because it makes their eyes light up. When you do, ask lots of questions and be genuinely interested in their passion.

Look for common ground, if possible. If you find yourself in a heated argument, take a step back and assess the situation more carefully. To avoid escalation, try to find some common ground. Do not be too aggressive when other people don’t accept your opinion because they are entitled to theirs. Instead of arguing over your difference of opinion, you can agree to disagree. Charming people take time to put themselves in other people’s shoes. More agreeable people are viewed more positively than those who engage in arguments.

Do not use your phone when talking to other people. Your Instagram/Facebook/Twitter feed will survive without your careful supervision for five minutes. It is a basic social etiquette not to look at your phone every now and then when you are talking to someone, because that’s rude. Any situation that commands your attention should have it in entirety. For example, if you’re being confided in or someone asked for your advice on an issue, then give them your undivided attention. This person trusts you – don’t blow it off.

Mind your manners. There’s a reason why we were taught to say please and thank you. It makes us likable and charming. Be appreciative of those actions that others do for your benefit. If not, the law of karma will get you. Have you heard of the “Waiter Test”? If you really want to know how an individual treats people, look more at how he interacts with the waiter than how he interacts with you. This test says how you treat waiters and waitresses can say a lot about your own personality. Yelling and screaming at an employee serving you will make others around you think you’re an elitist jerk. Charming people respect everyone, no matter what their status in life is , they treat everyone with respect and kindness.

Use the power of touch selectively. Touch, doesn’t mean the sexual touch. What I am referring to is the non-sexual touch which is a powerful way to convey what you mean. For example, when you’re congratulating someone, shaking their hands or patting them gently on the shoulder or upper arm can help reinforce the sincerity of your words.

Meditate. Meditation is taking control of your mind. Practicing mindfulness to achieve a heightened sense of self. Mindfulness will help you perceive and affect the emotions of those around you. In fact, researchers at Emory University have developed a form of meditation called cognitive-based compassion training which has been proven to increase empathy.

Be happy. Last but not least, being happy makes other people happy too. A happy person can light up any room that he walks into. Nobody wants to be surrounded by negative and toxic people. On the other hand, everyone needs friends and allies who are positive and upbeat. To be a charming person, always look on the brighter side of things. It’s because charm comes from all things nice and beautiful.

In conclusion, charming people can woo and wow people without overdoing it. They stay cool and don’t make life all about them. They gladly avoid the center of attention and make the limelight shine on those who deserve it. They do not brag about who they are and what they can do. Mindfulness is an attitude and a skill that you can learn to make your life better by keeping others happy.

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The Silent Retreat

Four monks, knowing the power and strength of silence, decided to meditate silently without speaking for two weeks. They began with enthusiasm and no one said a word the whole day. By nightfall of the first day, the candle began to flicker and then went out. Soon, the first monk blurted out, “oh, no! the candle is out.”  Then the second monk said, “hey! we are not supposed to speak!” Now, the third monk said in an irritated voice, “what is this? why did you two break the silence?” And soon the fourth monk smiled and said, “wow! I’m the only one who hasn’t spoken.”

Each monk had broken the silence for a different reason, each of which is a common stumbling block in our inner journey: distraction, judgement, anger and pride. The first monk got distracted by one aspect of his experience, the candle,  and forgot what was more important, the practice of witnessing without reacting. The second monk was more worried about others following the rules than in actually practicing himself. He was quick to judge without noticing that he himself was guilty of what he was criticizing. The third monk let his anger towards the first two monks affect him and the singular burst of his anger ruined the effort of the day. The fourth monk lost his way because of pride. He was convinced that he was superior to all others, proving his ignorance.

Why did the fourth monk speak at all? He could have simply maintained his silence and he would have been successful in his endeavor. But if he had, chances were, the other three might have continued to argue and not even noticed his silence. Some people are like this. Their life’s motto is “if I’m doing something good, but no one notices, I might as well not be doing it at all.” They believe that the reward is not in the effort, but in the recognition.

There is a beautiful quote, “It is the Provence of Knowledge to Speak; It is the Privilege of Wisdom to Listen.” When we learn to truly listen, witness and observe without impulsively reacting with distraction, judgement, anger and pride, then only do we understand the true meaning of silence.

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Preparing for Difficult Conversations

Do you ever find your emotions getting out of control when you’re having a difficult conversation? What steps could you take to keep them under control? Is there a difficult conversation that you’re putting off right now?

If so, imagine the relief you’ll feel once you get over with it. No one welcomes the prospect of a difficult conversation, whether it’s with a professor, a parent, a spouse, a teammate, or anyone else. Remind yourself that while you may not be able to change the information that needs to be shared, you can take steps to make the conversation itself less upsetting—and to keep emotions from spiraling out of control.

Make your conversations as trauma-free as possible with these tactics :

  • Don’t put it off. Although it’s natural to want to avoid an unpleasant confrontation, waiting usually makes things worse because you have to live with the anxiety for that much longer.
  • Don’t go in angry. While you don’t want to put off a difficult conversation, don’t jump into it if you’re still angry about something that happened, even if your anger is justified. Anger can cloud your perception and spur you to make bad decisions or say things you’ll regret. Find a way to cool off first.
  • Don’t make excuses. If you made a mistake or failed to meet a commitment, own up to it. You’ll feel better about yourself and earn respect from the other person.
  • See things from the other side. Regardless of who is at fault, if anyone, take a moment to consider what the other person is going through.
  • Ask for help if you need it. Admitting you need help can be a difficult step. However, if you’re in trouble, the bravest course is often to ask for help.
  • Be the boss of your own emotions. Be conscious of your emotions and actively control them; don’t let them control you. This is not easy, but it can be done.
  • Be kind. Unless you’re being taken advantage of, you’ll never regret being kind to someone, regardless of the circumstances.

Even if it’s likely to be a painful experience, it could be the start of repairing a damaged relationship or getting your life back on track.

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Introspection and Self-Analysis

Napoleon Hill suggested in his famous book , Think and Grow Rich, that a periodic self-analysis is not only essential for your personal growth but also for the marketing of personal services, effectively. Your annual introspection and effective self analysis should disclose an increase in your virtues and decrease in your faults besides your personal development whether you have gone ahead, or are you standing still, or have gone backward in life during that period . The effective marketing of personal services requires one to move forward even if the progress is slow. Your object should be, of course, to make progress and go ahead.

Your annual self-analysis should be made by asking yourself some serious questions and by checking your answers with someone who will not permit you to falter on their purpose and accuracy.

Self-Analysis Questionnaire

  • Have I attained the goal which I established as my objective for this year? (You should work with a definite yearly objective to be attained as a part of your major life objective.)
  • Have I delivered service of the best possible quality of which I was capable, or could I have improved any part of this service?
  • Have I delivered service in the greatest possible quantity of which I was capable?
  • Has the spirit of my conduct been harmonious and cooperative at all times?
  • Have I permitted the habit of procrastination to decrease my efficiency and if so, to what extent?
  • Have I improved my personality, and if so, in what ways?
  • Have I been persistent in following my plans through to completion?
  • Have I reached decisions promptly and definitely on all occasions?
  • Have I permitted any one or more of the six basic fears [poverty, criticism, ill health, loss of love of someone, old age, death] to decrease my efficiency?
  • Have I been either “over-cautious,” or “under-cautious”?
  • Has my relationship with my associates in work been pleasant, or unpleasant? If it has been unpleasant, has the fault been partly, or wholly mine?
  • Have I dissipated any of my energy through lack of concentration of effort?
  • Have I been open-minded and tolerant in connection with all subjects?
  • In what way have I improved my ability to render service?
  • Have I been intemperate in any of my habits?
  • Have I expressed, either openly or secretly, any form of egotism?
  • Has my conduct toward my associates been such that it has induced them to respect me?
  • Have my opinions and decisions been based upon guesswork, or accuracy of analysis and thought?
  • Have I followed the habit of budgeting my time, my expenses, and my income, and have I been conservative in these budgets?
  • How much time have I devoted to unprofitable effort which I might have used to better advantage?
  • How may I re-budget my time, and change my habits so I will be more efficient during the coming year?
  • Have I been guilty of any conduct which was not approved by my conscience?
  • In what ways have I rendered more service and better service than I was paid to render?
  • Have I been unfair to anyone, and if so, in what way?
  • If I had been the purchaser of my own services for the year, would I be satisfied with my purchase?
  • Am I in the right vocation, and if not, why not?
  • Has the purchaser of my services been satisfied with the service I have rendered, and if not, why not?
  • What is my present rating on the fundamental principles of success?

Make this rating fairly, and frankly, and have it checked by someone who is courageous enough to do it accurately.

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Excerpted from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill , St. Martin’s Press , 2019

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Overhaul for Better Life

Ever felt down in the dumps, absolutely sure that you wanted to transform your life but no idea where to start? All of us have some time or the other stood at that intersection at some point in life. 

It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to take a giant leap forward only to stumble backward.

I am sharing, here, a list of some of my experienced and tried small changes that I personally made in my life and attitude which actually helped me and I hope that these may help you, as well.

Less Anger, More Understanding. When we can understand why the other person acts the way they do, whether they are three years old or thirty, the need to yell and anger automatically starts to diminish.

Less Complaining, More Gratitude. When we look at all the wonderful things in life, the things that don’t go well start to seem trivial.

Less Blame, More Guidance. When we get hurt, it is instinctive to want to make the other person ‘pay’, but if we can guide the person to fix the situation, things are more likely to get better sooner.

Less Judgment, More Wonder. We are all unique, different, and a wee bit crazy in our own way. The best way to counter the urge to be judgmental is to cultivate a sense of wonder at each person’s uniqueness.

Less Resistance, More Acceptance. The more we resist something, the more it persists. The more we accept it, the less it bothers us.

Less Shame, More Vulnerability. Shame is a deep-seated fear that we are not enough. Yet, it’s a fact that none of us is perfect. When we accept the imperfection and embrace it, the tight grip of shame starts to loosen up.

Less Fear, More Action. We cannot reason with fear, especially the irrational one that stays in the head. The best way to make change happen is to take action and keep moving forward.

Less Comparison, More Contentment. Our life seems like a drag when we compare our “behind-the-scenes” with the highlight reel of someone else’s life. Focusing on contentment kills the need to try to keep up with the Joneses.

Less Will Power, More Habits. It’s scientifically proven that we have a limited supply of will power, and the more we exert it, the less we have for future use. So whenever possible, turn things into habit, limiting the need to use will power.

Less Guilt, More Communication. We all make mistakes. Communicating how badly we feel and figuring out how to fix things will keep guilt from gnawing away at our happiness.

Less Obsessing, More Balance. Embrace all shades between black or white, and the need to obsess on the extremes starts to shrink. Particularly helpful for recovering perfectionists like me!

Less Competition, More Cooperation. Come at things from a place of abundance and seek intentionally to cooperate, and the fear of competition starts to melt right away.

Less Stress, More Fun. If there is one thing we can learn from kids, it is to have fun. Ever notice how few kids are actually stressed?

Less Greed, More Generosity. Finding joy in giving is the perfect antidote for the habitual greed.

Less Distraction, More Rest. Seriously, make getting a fixed number of hours of sleep each night a priority, and distractions like social media and television will automatically stop killing productivity.

Less Bitterness, More Forgiveness. Bitterness only hurts the person carrying it. Forgive those who hurt us and move on.

Less Control, More Flow. Some things are simply out of our control. Learning to go with the flow helps tone down the urge to control.

Less Stubbornness, More Openness. What if we are wrong some times? Being open to accepting failure and constantly learning makes life so much simpler and beautiful.

Less Expectation, More Patience. Start small by delaying gratification with little things. As we learn to be more patient, our expectations of how/when things should turn out start to relax as well.

Less Ego, More Humility. Easier said than done, but the more easily we can say “sorry” and “thank you” (and really mean it), the less hold ego has on our life.

Hoping that these small changes that you would make (some would already be exercising most of these principles) in your daily lives would surely help you in a life overhaul for a better and healthy living.

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Mental and Emotional Wellness

Life can sometimes be really tiresome, one minute we’re high up riding on that crazy rollercoaster and the next second, we’re back down where we started. All that unpredictability and madness can mess with a person’s physical as well as mental wellbeing. And despite the fact that sometimes can be hard to tell if we are physically exhausted or we’ve just lost all hopes for the future it is safe to say that the only thing a person with this condition needs is a good rest and relaxation. Whenever life strikes us with some rocks along the way, it is essential to cool off for a while and let others take the lead. Taking some time off doesn’t necessarily means giving up, it’s making time for self-love and healing.

If we are experiencing any of the following telltale signs, it is possible we are going through a rough patch in life. Just don’t let it drain you to the last bit. Stop, breathe out and recharge. We can do this!

Easily Irritated. Hopelessness is the inability and the lack of power which makes us feel more and more irritated. We should be out there making the best of it, yet we feel much safer avoiding any possible contact with the outside world. Don’t beat yourself up, we’ve all been there. I know, it sucks. But, instead of recklessly wasting your time, spend this ‘time off’ to work on yourself.

Motivation Levels Low. Feeling like we are incapable of getting the work done. We struggle to find the motivation we need. The goals that once stimulated us to work hard are not enough. If this is your case, you need to give it a rest. Don’t push yourself too hard. Inspiration is everywhere around us and it will strike us when we least expect it.

 Experiencing Anxiety. As a result of over exhaustion, we feel more and more stressed than usual. Anxiety attacks are becoming a daily routine. Please, don’t be afraid. Try to find a way to center yourself in order to heal your wounds. Spend some time alone and figure out what you need in life.

Trouble Sleeping. Feeling like you are out of the place. The overwhelming feeling of exhaustion makes it harder for us to calm our thoughts and fall asleep. And insomnia becomes just another thing on the list. Proper environment and healthy diet combined with some light breathing exercises could help with a good night’s sleep.

Getting Upset Easily. Because of our increased sensitivity, we feel much more intense than we used to. Getting upset over trivial things and the intense feelings brings tears to our eyes. Don’t let yourself suffer. Take some time off and reconstruct your world. No matter how hard it is. It will all be worth it, I promise.

Dizziness and Nausea. One of the biggest symptoms noticed in over-exhausted people is constant dizziness and nausea. Whenever a person experiences a mental breakdown this naturally manifests physically as well. However, we should prevent it before it’s too late. Take matters into your hands. If you don’t, nobody will.

Crying Without Reason. When we are in bad place in life, it seems like the whole world is plotting against us. Our senses are heightened, we suddenly reach a hypersensitive state in which even the slightest joke could make our eyes sparkle with tears. When we’re exhausted both physically and mentally, we pretty much lose the strength to cope with challenging situations, and regular day-to-day stress is intensified. The only mechanism our body and soul use for cleansing is crying.

Feeling Detached. And after a while, we end up being “comfortably numb”. We don’t feel bad, nor good. We’ve gone senseless. It is the stage when we lose all hope.Please do not allow yourself to reach this point. When you feel even the slightest negative change in your wellbeing, stop and relax. Take your time off, breathe out and start healing your wounds. We can overcome anything life gives us. We just need to take care of ourselves first.

* * *

Karma

Buddha was sitting with his disciples, one of them asked him “What is Karma?”

Buddha said, “Let me tell you a story after which we will look for an answer to this question, again.”

A king was touring his kingdom on his elephant. Suddenly he stopped in front of a shop in the market and said to his minister, “I don’t know why, but I want to hang the owner of this shop.” The minister was shocked. But before he could ask the king why, the king had moved on.

The next day, the minister went to that shop dressed as one of the locals to see the shopkeeper. He casually asked him how his business was faring. The shopkeeper, a sandalwood merchant, reported sadly that he had hardly any customer. People would come to his shop, smell the sandalwood and then go away. They would even praise the quality of the sandalwood but rarely buy anything. His only hope was that the king would die soon. Then there would be a huge demand for sandalwood for performing his last rites. As he was the only sandalwood merchant around, he was sure the king’s death would mean a windfall.

The minister now understood why the king had stopped in front of this shop and expressed a desire to kill the shopkeeper. Perhaps, the shopkeeper’s negative thought vibration had subtly affected the king, who had, in turn, felt the same kind of negative thought arising within.

The minister; a nobleman, pondered over the matter for a while. Without revealing who he was or what had happened the day before, he expressed a desire to buy some sandalwood. The shopkeeper was pleased. He wrapped the sandalwood and handed it over to the minister.

When the minister returned to the palace, he went straight to the court where the king was seated and reported that the sandalwood merchant had a gift for him. The king was surprised. When he opened the package, he was pleasantly surprised by the fine golden color of the sandalwood and its agreeable fragrance. Pleased, he sent some gold coins to the sandalwood merchant. The king also felt sorry in his heart that he had harbored unbecoming thoughts of killing the shopkeeper.

When the shopkeeper received the gold coins from the king, he was astounded. He began to proclaim the virtues of the king who had, through the gold coins, saved him from the brink of poverty. After some time, he recalled the morbid thoughts he had felt towards the king and repented for having entertained such negative thoughts for his own personal goal.

If we have a good and kind thought for another person, that positive thought will come back to us in a favorable way. But if we harbor evil thoughts, those thoughts will come back to us as retribution.

“What then is Karma, according to this story?” asked Buddha. Many replied, “our words, our deeds, our feelings, our actions, …. etc.”

Buddha shook his head and replied, “Your thoughts are your Karma!”

* * *

Personality Development & Lifestyle Improvement in 2019

Success has less to do with hard work and more to do with massive focus on your few best opportunities.

  • Why resist change when it’s the main source of your growth?
  • The more you invest in growing and developing your mindset and way of seeing the world, the more everything you touch transforms in a breathtakingly positive way.
  • Pursuing perfection really does matter (in a world highly accepting of mediocrity).
  • Spending full days with zero technology to refuel or do important work is a game-changer.
  • Doing something super-nice for at least one stranger a day gives them a gift and an even larger one to yourself.
  • Adore your parents. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.
  • The smartest thing you can do to grow a great company is to first sweat getting only A- Players onto your team and then sweat training and developing them so they play their A-Game.
  • Most TV is toxic.
  • Have the discipline to clean out all the energy-draining people in your life. You really do rise or fall to the level of your associations.
  • Doing huge dreams we have never done can be frightening. Yet when we push to the edges of our limits, our limits expand.
  • If you don’t make the time for yourself to get inspired, no one around you will ever be inspired.
  • Your diet affects your moods. Eat like a superstar.
  • Talk less. Do more.
  • Integrity is more valuable than income.
  • Model Mandela and you’ll find at the end of your life, you lived an awesome one.
  • Learn to love yourself. It’s the great rule for loving other people.
  • When your dominant business focus is to deliver outrageous amounts of value to your customers every time they do business with you, they become fanatical followers who tell the world about what you do.
  • Money invested in personal development and professional growth generally has a x30 plus return on investment.
  • Real leaders have the guts to have the hard conversations.
  • Your environment (your home, your office, the magazines you read, etc.) dramatically affects your levels of achievement.
  • The quality of your practice affects the caliber of your performance.
  • Reviewing your Big 5 annual goals every morning and working on your plan every day is an exceptionally powerful way to breed unbeatable focus and drive.
  • Measure your success via your influence and impact versus only by your income and net worth.
  • To become successful, first learn how to be happy. Too many think that the route to happiness is to get successful. Untrue.
  • Getting ultra-fit lifts every other area of your life.
  • Self-belief is so incredibly important. Because if you don’t believe you can achieve a vision/goal, then you won’t even start to do the work needed to achieve that vision/goal.
  • Our biggest enemy is our own self-doubt. We really can achieve extraordinary things in our lives. But we sabotage our greatness because of our fear.
  • Drink more water.
  • Watch the documentary “Searching for Sugar Man”.
  • Join a mastermind group. It’s just remarkable what being in a room full of people who are smarter than yourself does for your performance.
  • Related to the above, remember what Dennis Kimbro once said: “If you’re the smartest one of your friends, you need new friends.”
  • Dopamine is the elite performer’s best friend. You rarely go wrong when you trust yourself.
  • Writing down what you learn works so much better than typing things down on a computer.
  • If you try to do it all yourself, you get very little done. The most productive people set the dream and then hand it over swiftly to a project manager to execute with precision.
  • Become one of the rare people who don’t know how to quit (unless it really is time to quit).
  • It truly makes a difference to the people around you.
  • Just because excellent manners are not so common doesn’t mean that excellent manners are not incredibly important.
  • Always remember that there’s food on your table thanks to the customers you are privileged to serve.
  • It’s so much better to fail trying than to not even get into the game.
  • Music just makes life a whole lot better.
  • You can change the world or you can worry about fitting in, but you just can’t do both.
  • All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and beautiful at the end.
  • The real key to getting great things done is to stop doing so many good things.
  • Small little details done excellently and consistently stack up into something the world sees as Mastery.
  • Spend time in nature to renew and refuel.
  • Less entertainment, more education.
  • Gratitude is the antidote to misery.
  • We become happier not by accumulating more things but by creating richer experiences.
  • Your self-identity is what really determines your income, influence, impact and lifestyle. Retrain that and your bigness comes out to play.
  • The more you serve, the more joyful you’ll become.
  • Life’s short. Have fun.                                                              ______________________________

Courtesy: Robin Sharma

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The Principles of Spiritual Living

Are you still trying to find your “purpose?” The problem is not finding it. The real challenge is what to do after you figure it out and realizing what a difference having a vision and mission in life can make. I believe that having a vision and mission gives us a firm foundation for happiness and, therefore, success, though, it may not even be necessary for everyone. Vision and mission statements are tools; that’s all they are. They aren’t the end-all to all end-alls. What we really need to be happy and succeed in life is already within us.

The first principle of spiritual living is that we must stop trying to be who we are and start being who we are. It means we frequently try too hard to be something we’re not. Think about it. No one knows you the way you do. If you don’t like something about yourself, change it or figure out why you are being so critical with yourself. If you need help doing that, find help in the wisdom and advice of the great masters, mystics and sages without being biased by any religion, belief or faith. The key point is to stop trying to be yourself and just start accepting that you can be yourself. You can do so without reservation, approval, permission or apology.

Isn’t it time for us to see who we/you are? Isn’t it time to move to that next level of expression? It’s inside you, perhaps desperately seeking the manifestation only you can provide.

In this post I’d like to share with you some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned during the course of my life, in hopes that you will find them as helpful as I did. Without further ado, here they are:

This moment is all there is. The past is gone and the future is not here yet. The present moment is everything you have, so be sure to immerse yourself in it.

I don’t know everything, and that’s totally fine. To learn, you need to admit that you don’t know it all. In fact, not everything can be known, and that’s part of the beauty of life, which is an ongoing learning journey.

Pain isn’t your enemy. It’s just a messenger trying to show you that there’s something amiss. So instead of hiding from your pain or suppressing it, face it and pay attention to what it has to show you, so that you can understand why it’s there and how to get rid of it.

The best things in life are free. Here are a few examples: A deep breath of fresh air, a walk in nature, a conversation with a good friend, and a look into the eye of a beloved partner. Cherish them before someone puts a price tag on them too.

Money isn’t just neutral energy. As it exists today, money is creating artificial scarcity, which results in competition, inequality, poverty, greed, and violence (among other things). Therefore, money is quite a negative force in our world.

Peace begins on your plate. Three times a day you can choose peace over violence — that is, with each meal you eat. Is your food cruelty-free or does it involve unnecessary suffering and death?

Don’t trust the mainstream media. Most big media companies are owned by people whose main intention is to emotionally manipulate you in order to keep you hypnotized, sell you lies and empty your pockets.

Voice your truth. Speak out your mind, express your feelings and let people see who you truly are. Being true to yourself and others is the only way to build genuine relationships and live an authentic life.

You can’t change anyone. But your actions can inspire many to change.

Mistakes are part of learning. Don’t fear making mistakes, for they have important things to teach you. But make sure you don’t repeat them.

Failures are stepping stones to success. Each failure leads you one step closer to success, so don’t shy away from it. Try, fail, and then try again for as long as it takes to achieve your goals.

Simplicity is the key to living well. To live simply means to let go of what is unimportant and focus on what truly matters to your happiness and well-being.

Think for yourself. If you don’t, someone else will think for you.

We don’t have a true democracy. Casting a vote once every few years alone doesn’t give people much freedom in collective decision-making. Especially if you consider that what they vote for is nothing but power-hungry politicians who are lying to them in order to serve their vested interests.

There is no ‘free market’. In our socioeconomic system, you have as much freedom as your money can buy. And those with a lot of it have the freedom to restrict the freedom of others.

Books can be life-changing. You must have heard this countless times. But it’s totally true — some books have the power to turn your life upside down, in a tremendously positive way. Just make sure to carefully pick which books to read, otherwise they can be a waste of your time.

Use your words wisely. Words can hurt or heal, so always be mindful of how you speak.

Do no harm, but take no shit. Be kind and loving to your fellow human beings, but be smart enough to establish healthy boundaries in your relationships.

Possessions can possess you. Let go of your attachments to your belongings, for one day they will all be taken away from you.

Look fear in the eye. If you don’t, you will never overcome it.

Take responsibility for your life. Don’t just sit cross-legged and blame others for your misfortunes. You have much power in your hands to help shape your destiny.

Change starts from within. Embody the change you wish to see in the world.

No person is evil. Those who choose to hurt others are deeply hurt themselves. Keeping a non-judgmental, compassionate attitude can do wonders to help heal all wounds.

Question your beliefs. If followed blindly, they can ruin your life (and that of others).

Our economy is an anti-economy. To economize means to carefully manage resources and to avoid unnecessary expenditure or waste. Our economy, however, is fundamentally based on consumption — that is, on the mindless and constant extraction of natural resources and production of waste.

Choose your friends carefully. The people we spend time with shape our lives. Choose to spend it with those who lift you up and not those who drag you down.

There’s no such thing as the perfect relationship. But if your relationships are build with patience, love and care, they can enrich your life more than anything else.

Embrace change. Life is constantly changing, and the happiest people are the ones who have learned to adapt and flow with it.

You might die any moment. Contemplate on death regularly, so that when it knocks on your door, it doesn’t find you unprepared.

Be grateful for what you have. Your life might not be perfect, but it’s still a wonder-full gift. Remember to appreciate it and make the most out of it while you can.

Wishing you peace, prosperity and good health in the New Year.

* * *

Honest Relationships

The concept of being faithful within a relationship is very important to the majority of people. There aren’t many people who want to be in a relationship with someone who is unfaithful to them. The thing is people tend to have differing opinions on exactly what being unfaithful means. For some, the line is drawn at anything physical. Kissing, intimate touching, and sex all constitute cheating for them. For others, emotional cheating is just as bad – or even worse. That means being emotionally intimate with another person, flirting with them, talking about or actually having feelings for them, and so on.

In my opinion, the line between staying faithful and infidelity is pretty simple and doesn’t need to be complicated. To me, being unfaithful constitutes doing anything with another person that you wouldn’t do with your partner present. If you do something that you wouldn’t have done in full view of your partner, you’re being unfaithful to some extent.

Whether it’s a glance at another person that lingers too long, flirting, or kissing another person, the fact that you’re doing something you just wouldn’t do in front of your partner means you’re not being the honest version of yourself around them. You’re holding back, showing them one side of you while being capable of doing other things behind their back. That dishonesty of character, in my eyes, constitutes being unfaithful. Unfaithfulness to your partner, unfaithfulness to your relationship, and unfaithfulness to the trust and honesty that any relationship needs are detrimental to all relationships.

I’d argue that this definition even applies to things in life that don’t constitute cheating. If you’re hiding part of yourself, part of your life, from your partner, and not telling them about it, you’re not being honest with them. You’re being unfaithful to the relationship. They don’t really know the real, full you like they think they do.

You’re someone else when you know they’re not watching.

Staying faithful to your partner isn’t just about not jumping into bed with another person. It’s about consistently holding yourself to the same standards of behavior that you would if your partner was right there next to you. No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who changes when they’re not there. Being faithful means holding yourself accountable for your actions and behavior.

You always have a choice as to how you behave. If your relationship means as much to you as a healthy relationship should, then control yourself and aim to always be the same, consistent version of yourself – regardless of whether or not there’s anyone watching.

Being faithful means that you choose your partner, every minute, every second of every day. It means being honest, being consistent, and being the same version of yourself no matter the circumstances.

When you have a relationship where this expectation is made clear by both parties, you have a strong, trusting bond as a foundation to build on. The confidence in your partner you feel when you know how much being totally faithful means to them will take you a long way in life, no matter how hard things get.

If you love someone, treat them with the respect they deserve.

* * *

Knowledge vs. Skills

“Only the disciplined ones in life are free. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods and your passions.” — Eliud Kipchoge

Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya shattered the world record in the marathon by one minute and 18 seconds with a time of 2:01:39. This equates to an unfathomable average mile of 4 minutes, 38 seconds over 26 straight miles. He broke the record by a wider margin than any man in over 40 years. Kipchoge shared with The New York Times which did a profile of Kipchoge that since he became serious about the sport he’s recorded every single workout he’s ever done in a notebook. He’s now up to 15 notebooks, one for each year he’s been doing it.

That’s deliberate practice. And, even if you’re never going to set a world record, it’s worth understanding that even the best at what they do must work extremely hard to see improvements.

In 1908 Johnny Hayes won the gold medal at the Olympics in London in the marathon with a time of 2 hours, 55 minutes and 18 seconds. At the time it was known as “the greatest race of the century.” That time today would barely offer breathing room to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

In the 1920s and 1930s there was a Finnish runner by the name of Paavo Nurmi who set all kinds of world records (22 to be exact) in a variety of distance runs. None of his competitors could come close to matching his times for a number of years. Although he was talented, his competitors would eventually figure out it was his training that set him apart. Nurmi would pace himself using a stopwatch, use interval training to build his speed, and train year-round.

Ray Allen is arguably one of the greatest shooters in NBA history. He had one of the smoothest deliveries but it wasn’t always like that. After scouting him in high school UCONN coach Jim Calhoun (who Allen would go on to play for) said, “That’s the flattest jump shot I’ve ever seen.” Allen dispelled the rumor that he was born with the gift of a shooting touch in an interview with Jackie Mac Mullan a number of years ago:

“I’ve argued this with a lot of people in my life,” Allen said. “When people say God blessed me with a beautiful jump shot, it really pisses me off. I tell those people ‘Don’t undermine the work I’ve put in every day.’ Not some days, every day. Ask anyone who has been on a team with me who shoots the most. Go back to Seattle and Milwaukee, and ask them. The answer is me — not because it’s a competition but because that’s how I prepare.” It’s hard to envision all the work that leads up to it when you only see the finished product.

It’s easy to chalk up most people’s performance in life to their innate God given abilities but talent can only take you so far. These methods may seem obvious today but they were groundbreaking at the time. Once everyone else adopted them it lifted the competition and leveled the playing field, bringing down everyone’s times in the process.  In the past, knowledge offered much of this type first mover advantage. Technology has leveled that playing field in many ways. Almost everyone has the sum total of human knowledge in their handheld pocket supercomputer these days. It’s skill that now makes the biggest difference but even talent alone can only take you so far in life. Once a person reaches a certain level of performance, even additional years of practice won’t help them improve if they don’t approach it the right way. Going through the motions doesn’t improve your skills because you’re never pushed outside of your comfort zone.

Research on doctors, as outlined by Anders Ericcson in his book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, found that there is a great difference between knowledge and skills based on his findings that even those doctors who have been in practice for 20 or 30 years do worse on objective measures of performance than doctors who are just 2 or 3 years out of med school. Harvard Medical School published a study in 2005 on 62 different individual research reports on the standard of care provided by doctors and how it changes over time. Almost three-quarters of the studies found a doctor’s quality of care declines over time.  Older doctors knew less and performed worse in terms of providing care than those who had fewer years of experience. Just 2 of the 62 studies found doctors got better with more years of service.

This distinction between knowledge and skills lies at the heart of the difference between traditional paths toward expertise and the deliberate-practice approach. Traditionally, the focus is nearly always on knowledge. Even when the ultimate outcome is being able to do something—solve a particular type of math problem, say, or write a good essay—the traditional approach has been to provide information about the right way to proceed and then mostly rely on the student to apply that knowledge. Deliberate practice, by contrast, focuses solely on performance and how to improve it. The assumption that med school, reading medical journals, and attending seminars when combined with years of experience should be enough to improve their skills doesn’t seem to hold for many doctors. Ericcson’s book provides some examples where doctors are taking a new approach to ensure their skills don’t atrophy.

When you look at how people are trained in the professional and business worlds, you find a tendency to focus on knowledge at the expense of skills. The main reasons are tradition and convenience: it is much easier to present knowledge to a large group of people than it is to set up conditions under which individuals can develop skills through practice.

Knowledge is table stakes. Mindless repetition isn’t going to improve your results. Developing useful skills requires going outside of your comfort zone and determining a clear plan of attack for getting better.

______________________

References:

  • Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool
  • Making It Look Easy is Hard Work by Ben Carlson, March 2018

* * *

Positive Thinking, Negative Thinking, No Thinking

A Talk delivered by J Krishnamurti on 12th November 1958 at Madras (now called Chennai)) India

I think almost all serious people must have thought a great deal about the necessity of bringing about a radical change in the quality of the mind. We see, as things are in the world, that there is no fundamental alteration or change in the human mind. Of course, through pressure, economic and social, through various forms of religious fear, through new inventions and so on, there is change, but this change is always peripheral, on the outside, and obviously such change does not bring about a deep, radical change in the quality of the mind. You must have noticed that society always follows a pattern, certain formulas, in the same way as every individual follows certain concepts, ideals, always moving within the pattern. You must have noticed it not only in yourself and in society but in all our relationships, and you must have wondered how to bring about a deep, lasting, integrated change, so that the interaction between the outer and the inner does not bring about corruption. I do not mean anything mysterious by the `inner’. It is the inner quality of the mind that I am talking about, not inward things which the mind imagines and speculates about. All society, all human existence is a matter of this interrelationship between the outer and the inner which is constantly fluctuating and always modifying. And if I may, I would like to talk about the possibility of a radical change because I think it is very important. After all, we are social entities and we must live by action. Life is action. One cannot just sit and speculate, neither can one merely carry on with the corruption because, as we know, it only breeds contradiction within ourselves and everlasting torture and struggle. So how is the mind to change? How is there to be a radical change in the total consciousness, not only on the upper levels of the mind but also at the deeper levels, and not along a set pattern? Following a pattern is not a change at all; it is merely a modified continuity of what has been. How is one to really change the quality, the substance of one’s consciousness, totally? I do not know if you have thought about it, or are you merely concerned with outward changes which are brought about by every form of social and economic revolution, every new invention? If we are concerned with a total change of consciousness, of the quality of the mind, then I think we must think negatively because negative thinking is the highest form of thinking, not the so-called positive thinking. The positive is merely the pursuit of a formula, a conclusion and all such thinking is limited, conditioned.

I hope you are listening rather than just hearing because I want to go into something rather difficult, if I can, and I hope we shall be able to proceed with it together. But if you are merely hearing and not listening, then you will be caught at the verbal level and words then become over-significant. Words are only the means of communicating something. So I hope you are going to listen without any desire to understand mere ideas. I have no ideas because I think they are the most stupid things; they have no substance, no reality, they are just words. So I hope you are listening in the sense of trying to see the problem, just to see it, not to struggle to understand it or resolve it, but to see this extraordinary complex problem which we have – the problem of bringing about a total change in consciousness, in the mind. As I was saying, negative thinking is the highest form of thinking. We never think negatively; we think only positively. That is, we think from a conclusion to a conclusion, from a pattern to a pattern, from a system to a system. That I must be this, I must acquire some virtue, follow this or that path, do certain disciplines. The positive thinking is always in the grooves of our own conditioned thinking – I hope you are watching your own mind, your own thought , and that way only leads to further limitation of the mind, to narrowness of the mind, to pettiness of action; it always strengthens the self-centered activity. Negative thinking is something entirely different, but it is not the opposite of positive thinking. If I can understand the limitations of positive thinking, which invariably leads to self-centered activity, if I can understand not only verbally, intellectually but as the whole process of human thinking, then there is a new awakening in negative thinking.

Most of us are attached to something – to property, to a person, an idea, a belief, an experience – are we not? You are attached to your family, your good name, your profession, your guru, to this and that. Now, this attachment invariably breeds suffering and conflict because the thing to which you are attached is constantly changing, obviously. But you do not want the change; you want to hold on to it permanently. So, being aware that attachment breeds sorrow, grief, pain, you try to cultivate detachment. Obviously both attachment and the cultivation of detachment are positive ways of thinking. Detachment is not the negation of attachment, it is merely attachment continued under a different verbal garb. The mental process is entirely the same, if you have ever noticed it. For instance, I am attached to my wife. In that there is pain, struggle, jealousy, frustration, and to escape from all that, I say I must be detached, I must love in an impersonal manner – whatever that may mean – I must love without limitation, and I try to cultivate detachment. But the centre of my activity in attachment or detachment is exactly the same thing. So, our thinking which we call positive is a conflict of the opposites or an endeavour to escape into a synthesis which again creates an opposite. Take Communism, it is the antithesis of Capitalism, and eventually through struggle the Communists hope to create a synthesis, but because it is born of the conflict of opposites that synthesis is going to create another antithesis. And this process is what we call positive thinking, not only outwardly, socially, but inwardly also.

Now if one understands the total process of all this, not only intellectually but actually, then we will see that a new way of thinking comes into being. It is a negative process unrelated to the positive. The positive way of thinking leads to immaturity, to a mind that is conditioned, shaped, and that is exactly what is happening with all of us. When you say you want to be happy, you want Truth, God, to create a different world, it is always in terms of the positive, which is to follow a system that will produce the desired result, and the result is always the known and it becomes again the cause. Cause and effect are not two different things. The effect of today will be the cause of tomorrow. There is no cause, isolated, which produces an effect; they are interrelated. There is no such thing as a law of cause and effect, which means that there is really no such thing as what we call karma. To us, karma means a result with a previous cause, but in the interval between the effect and the cause there has been time. In that time there has been a tremendous lot of change and therefore the effect is never the same. And the effect is going to produce another cause which will never be merely the result of the effect. Do not say, `I do not believe in karma’, that is not the point at all. Karma means, very simply, action and the result, with its further cause. Sow a mango seed and it is bound to produce a mango tree – but the human mind is not like that. The human mind is capable of transformation within itself, immediate comprehension, which is a breaking away from the cause, always.

So negative thinking is not thinking in terms of patterns because patterns imply a cause which will produce a result which the mind can manipulate, control and change. With that process we are all very familiar. What I am trying to convey is a negative thinking which has no causation. This may all sound too absurd, but we will go into it and you will see. We will approach it differently.

Most of us are discontented, are we not? We are discontented with our job, with our wife, husband, children, neighbours, society or whatever it is. I want position, I want money, I want love. We know all this. Now discontent with something is positive; but discontent, in itself, is negative. I will explain. When we are discontented, what is actually taking place? If I am discontented with my job, with myself, what is happening? I want to find contentment, through this or through that. So the discontent is canalized until it finds something which will be satisfactory, and then it fades away. That is what we call positive action, – to find something which will make us happy. But without the flame of real discontent – not discontent with something – life has no meaning. You may have a marvelous job, an extraordinary brain, get degrees and be able to discuss, quote, but your discontent has merely taken the shape of cleverness, and there you are completely sterile. You started with discontent, and at school perhaps you were very good, but as you grew, that discontent became stratified into cleverness or into some form of technique, and there you are satisfied because you feel you have capacity and can function. That again is positive thinking. Whereas negative thinking is just to be in a state of discontent and such a mind is a very disturbed mind. It is not satisfied and it is not seeking satisfaction because it sees that satisfaction leads only to that positive action which we all seek. To find a way to be satisfied everlastingly means to be dead. And that is what you want; you call it peace of mind and say, `for God’s sake give me some corner in this universe where I can die peacefully’. So the positive action leads always to death. If you can see that, then you will see that a negative way of thinking is taking place. Therefore the negative way of thinking never starts with a conclusion, because one sees where conclusions lead.

So the negative way of thinking is the maintenance, the sustenance of the quality that is discontent – discontent in itself, not with something. Please do not get caught at the verbal level but see the significance of this. But we must understand that positive thinking is conditioned thinking and that there is no change in that; there is modification but no radical transformation. Radical transformation is only in the negative thinking, as we saw in relation to attachment and to discontent. This positive thinking leads only to a dull mind, an insensitive mind, a mind that is not capable of reception, a mind that thinks only in terms of its own security – either the security of the individual or of the family, group or race, which you can observe very clearly in world politics.

After all, this earth is ours, yours and mine. This earth which is so marvelous, so beautiful, so rich, is ours to live on happily, without all this fragmentation, without being broken up into different fields called England, Germany, Russia, India. Yet we are battling to keep up the separation. Nobody thinks of this whole world as ours, nobody says, `let us do something together about it’. Instead, we have this fragmentary way of thinking which we call positive, or we pursue some idea of internationalism, which is equally silly. If I can see that, then there is a different approach, a different feeling of the mind, whether it be the Russian or the German or whatever mind it is. Then there is no such thing as the nonsense of patriotism; there is the love of the earth – not your earth and my earth, you cultivating your little field and I cultivating mine, and quarreling over it, but it is our earth.

Now when we see that this positive way of thinking is destructive, then the negative way comes into being. To think negatively there must be sensitivity, sensitivity both to the beautiful and to the ugly. The man who is pursuing what he calls the beautiful and avoiding the ugly, is not sensitive. The man who pursues virtue without understanding that which is not virtuous, merely avoiding it, is invariably insensitive. Please think this out with me, feel it out and you will see. So appreciation of the beauty of a tree, a leaf, the reflection on still waters, is not sensitivity if you are not also aware of the squalor, the dirt, the way you eat, the way you talk, the way you think, the way of your behaviour.

Under this tree it is very beautiful, very quiet, there is lovely shade and light, and just outside there is that filthy village with all the squalor and dirt and the unfortunate human beings who live there but you are not aware of it. So we are always wanting beauty, truth and God and avoiding the other, and that pursuit is the positive and leads to insensitivity, if we are not aware of the other. And the positive way of erecting buildings for dances, having special schools for dancing, all that business becomes a personal racket, satisfying to the mind that is only thinking positively. Creation is not positive, ever. Creation is the state of mind in which there is no positive action as we know it.

So, radical transformation takes place in the mind only when there is this negative thinking. As I said the other day, the thinking that we know of is always in words or symbols. I do not know if you have noticed that there is thinking without words but that thinking is still the result of the positive word. I will explain. You always think in words, symbols, do you not? Please look. The word, the symbol becomes very important to thought. It is the basis of all our thinking; there is association through memory and the memory is a picture, a word, and from that we proceed to think, again in symbols, words. That is all we know, and also if you are very alert, aware, you can see that there is thinking without the word, without the symbol. I am not going to give an example because then you will get lost, so please capture the significance, for negative thinking is not related to thought-with-the-word. Unless you see this you will not see what follows. I am thinking aloud; I have not worked it out at home and then come here to speak it out. So please see this, not merely verbally or speculatively but actually experience that thought functions in words, in symbols and also that thought functions without the word and the symbol. Both these are positive ways of thinking because they are still in the realm of the opposites. Let me put it differently.

You must have watched your mind how vagrant it is, how it wanders all over the place, one thought pursuing another. When you try to examine one thought, another comes in. So the mind is full of this movement, the agitation of thought. The mind is always occupied with thought. Thought is the instrument of the mind; so the mind is never still. Do not at once say, `How am I to make the mind still?’ That is all too immature, stupid, because it means again a positive following of some pattern. So, realizing the incessant activity of the thought-producing mechanism, through memory, through association, being aware of that, cannot the mind empty itself of this mechanism? Do not ask how, just listen, because understanding is instantaneous, it is not a process which will ultimately get you a mind emptied of thought. If you see the positive, destructive way, – of the mind’s activity of producing thought and being controlled by it and then trying to empty the mind – if you can see the falseness or the truth of it, then you will also see that the mind can empty itself of itself, of its limitations, of its ego-centricity, of its self-centered activities. Please go with me a little. The mind is perpetually active, producing and controlling thought. It realizes that, and says, `I must be quiet’, but that generally means quiet through control, which is again positive, destructive and limiting. But you can see if you go a little further that the mind can be emptied of thought, can free itself from the past, not be burdened by the past. It does not mean that memories are not there but they do not shape or control the mind. Now all that is still positive thinking. If you see the falseness of it, the mind will invariably go further, which is, the mind then is not the slave of thought but it can think what it wants. I do not know how to put this. As I said, I am thinking aloud with you and you will have to excuse me if I try different ways of putting it.

I do not know if you have ever tried to think without being a slave to thought. With most of us the mind is a slave to thought, it pursues thought, contradictory thought and all the rest of it. If you perceive that and empty the mind, it can then think, freed from thoughts associated with memory; and if you go further into it, you will see that the mind which is free – not in the sense of the opposite of slavery, but free in itself – then that mind, emptied of memory, can think in a negative way. Then you will see that the mind, being completely empty of systems, formulas, speculations, thoughts associated with memory, experiences and so on, can perceive that there is a state in which there is action in this world, not from fullness but from emptiness.

You see we are acting now with full minds, overcrowded minds, minds that are incessantly active, in contradiction, struggling, adjusting, ambitious, envious, jealous, brutal or gentle and so on. You follow? We are acting on that level. The mind, being full, acts. That action can never produce a new mind, a new quality of mind, a fresh mind, an innocent mind – and it is only such an innocent, fresh mind that can create, that is in a state of creation. The mind sees that, and if the mind can empty itself, then the action that is born out of emptiness is the true positive action, not the other. That is the only true, positive, creative action, because it is born out of emptiness. If you have done any painting, written a poem, a song, you will find the deep feeling comes out of nothingness. But a mind that is crowded can never feel that nothingness and can therefore never be sensitive.

One sees that there can be a radical change in the quality of the mind, which is absolutely necessary now because the present society is a dead society, reforming itself through various forms of anesthesia and pumping activity into itself. If you as an individual are to change fundamentally, radically, deeply – and therefore change society – then this whole thing that I have described must take place. Then beauty has quite a different significance, as has ugliness, because beauty is not the opposite of the ugly. An ugly face can be beautiful. But such beauty is not conceived by the mind that has avoided ugliness.

So if you have really listened and do not try to do anything about it – because whatever you do will be so-called positive and therefore destructive – then it is enough. It is to see something lovely and leave it alone, not try to capture it, not take it home and smother it by thought.

If you have seen for yourself, not through my persuasiveness, not through my words, my influence, if you have felt the beauty, the extraordinary quality of the mind that is empty, then from that emptiness there is a new birth.

It is this new birth which is needed, not the going back to Mahabharata, Ramayana, Marx or Engels, or revivalism. The mind that is really creative is the empty mind, not the blank mind or the mind that merely wishes to be creative. It is only the empty mind that can understand this whole thing – the extraordinary process of thought and thought emptying itself of its own impetus. Then you will see that there is a radical, deep change which is not brought about by influence, circumstances, culture or society. It is that mind which will create a new society. And the moment it creates a new society, that society is already in corruption. All societies are in corruption because that which is created is ever dying. Therefore, recognizing that no society, no tradition, no knowledge is permanent; we can see that the mind which is empty is creative, is in a state of creation.

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Fascinating Language Facts You Didn’t Know

How much do you know about foreign languages? The world is full of diverse and unique languages, from the exotic sounds of Japanese to the romantic expressions of French. How all of these languages originated is often debated. Ideas such as the “bow-wow” theory say that language began with humans imitating the sounds animals make to communicate. Others believe that language was a divine gift, but most agree that all languages developed from a single language into the thousands we have today.

There are dozens of interesting language facts on this list that will inspire and fascinate you:

  • There are over 7,000 languages worldwide, and most of them are dialects.
  • Cambodian has the longest alphabet with 74 characters. Try making that into an alphabet song!
  • The Bible is the most translated book, followed by Pinocchio.
  • The English word “alphabet” comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet – alpha and beta.
  • 2,400 of the world’s languages are in danger of becoming extinct and about one language becomes extinct every two weeks.
  • The first printed book was in German.
  • There are over 200 artificial languages in books, movies, and TV shows, such as “Klingon.”
  • The Papuan language of Rotokas only has 11 letters, making it the smallest alphabet.
  • Only 23 languages account for more than half of the world’s population!
  • About 2/3 of all languages are from Asia and Africa.
  • French is the main foreign language taught in the UK.
  • Of all the language facts, this one fascinates us the most- at least half of the world’s population is bilingual!
  • Many linguists believe that language originated around 100,000 BC.
  • Basque is a language spoken in the mountains between France and Spain and it has no relation to any other known language. (They didn’t get out much).
  • South Africa has the most official languages with 11.
  • More than 1.5 million Americans are native French speakers.
  • The Florentine dialect was chosen as the national language of Italy. Most regions in Italy primarily speak their own dialect to this day.
  • Kinshasa is the world’s second largest French speaking city, after Paris. Kinshasa is the capital city in the Congo.
  • There are about 24 official languages spoken throughout Europe.
  • Other than English, French is the only language taught in every country.
  • On average, people only use a few hundred words in daily conversation, while most languages have 50,000+ words.
  • German words can have three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Most languages only have either masculine or feminine.
  • The United States has no “official language.” Most people just assume it’s English.
  • The language of La Gomera spoken off the coast of Spain consists entirely of whistles. (…but what if you can’t whistle?)
  • Over 20,000 new French words are created each year.
  • About 30% of English words come from French.
  • Botswana has a language made up of five primary “click” sounds.
  • Spanish contains about 4,000 Arabic words.
  • German is the most spoken language in Europe. Four countries have it as their official language.
  • Physical contact during a conversation is completely normal when speaking Spanish.
  • Papua New Guinea has the most languages, at 840.
  • Italian is a minority language in Brazil.
  • Over 300 languages are spoken in London alone. No matter what, you have a pretty good chance of finding someone to speak with!
  • The languages spoken in North Korea and South Korea are different. They have distinct vocabularies and grammatical rules due to being separated for so long.
  • The English language contains the most words, with over 250,000.
  • Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world.
  • Multiple studies have shown that learning a second language can improve the memory and slow the process of aging. This is one of our favorite language facts!
  • Argentina still has a high number of Welsh speakers, due to settlers inhabiting the Patagonia mountains hundreds of years ago.
  • Russian was the first language spoken in outer space.
  • People who speak Chinese use both sides of the brain, whereas English only uses the left side.
  • Twenty-one countries have Spanish as their official language, making it a great choice for travelers.
  • Hindi didn’t become the official language of India until 1965.
  • The Pope tweets in nine languages, but his Spanish account has the most followers.
  • Hawaiians have over 200 different words for “rain.”
  • The culinary and ballet worlds use mostly French words and terms.
  • In Indonesian, “air” means “water.”
  • Japanese uses three different writing systems: Kanji, Katakana, and Hiragana.
  • The U.S. has the second highest number of Spanish speakers, after Mexico.
  • Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world. If you speak it, you can speak to 13% of the world’s population!
  • Cryptophasia is a language phenomenon that only twins, identical or fraternal, can understand.

References

  • com/blog/12-interesting-facts-languages
  • com/25-fascinating-language-facts/5
  • com/language-quiz
  • com/blog/item/interesting-facts-about-the-spanish-language
  • com/blog/interesting-facts-about-the-french-language
  • co.uk/facts-japanese-language
  • com/guides/how-many-languages
  • com/blog/9-surprising-facts-about-the-german-language
  • com/travelbeats/hindi-language-history-facts
  • it/20170203/21-mildly-interesting-facts-about-the-italian-language
  • com/10-interesting-facts-figures-mandarin-chinese

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Wise Sayings from Buddha

The teachings of Buddha ( meaning ‘one who is awake to the reality’) have left a profound effect on millions across the world. Even though Buddha’s teachings are over thousands of years old they are still pearls of wisdom that have been passed on from one generation to the other. He has inspired people to lead a meaningful life and soothe the aching souls giving them a new direction in life. Buddha’s timeless teachings hold true still today especially to everyone going through tough times and those looking to find meaning in life. Buddha’s simple sayings have a profound effect on many lives. In Buddha’s teachings, people from different cultures and upbringings, age, and nationality have found answers to some of the most fundamental questions about life and relationships. Here are some of his sayings that will help you go to another level.

Buddha says, “Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Happiness grows when you share it with people just like sorrows tend to diminish when you share them with the loved ones.

Buddha says, “If you light a lamp for someone else it will also brighten your path.” When you help someone you yourself get much more in return. Not only is helpfulness a desirable quality but it also makes you truly a gem of a person.

Buddha says, “Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” Everyone comes in this life with a predestined purpose and life plan. You are here on this earth to fulfill a task.

Buddha says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” One must always be ready to learn. You can learn from just about anyone the only thing you need is the will.

Buddha says, “Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.” The life we live is full of various ups and downs, the only way forward is to expect every aspect of it with open arms.

Buddha says, “In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.” Everyone is born equal. Learn to embrace people for who they are , do not judge anyone for their material possessions.

Buddha says, “Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.” Words have the power to make or break you so the next time you speak, speak wisely.

Buddha says, “Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.” Learn to embrace the fact that people will come and go with all the life’s complexities and chaos but you must strive with diligence.

Buddha says, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” When you get angry your emotions get the better of you and logic moves out of the window. So control your anger and use your rationale.

Buddha says, “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts. But once mastered, no one can help you as much.” Your mind is your biggest treasure and worst enemy, it’s up to you what you want to make of it.

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Self-Respect and Happiness

Self-respect means having pride and confidence in yourself and behaving with grace, honor, and dignity. Self-respect forms the foundation of all the decisions you’ll ever make, how you treat yourself, and how you allow others to treat you. Self respect is the respect you have for yourself, while ego is your understanding of your own importance. An inflated ego may be borne from too much self-esteem, or when you realized just how important and special you are inspired by mental imbalances. People with a huge ego sometimes feel unequal to others because, deep inside, they feel worthless and undeserving of respect. But when you respect yourself and believe in yourself, the ego is still naturally always present, but does not play a huge part in your actions. The person with self-respect simply likes himself/herself, which is not contingent on success or failure. Self-esteem is knowing you can conduct yourself well in every situation, and having a good grasp of various things in life. Outwardly, you are successful, which contributes to your self-esteem. But it’s possible to experience and act with self-esteem while having very little self-respect. The problem with just relying on self-esteem, or being caught up in this evaluative framework, is the moment you have a bad day and doubt yourself, you fall prone to blame, guilt, regret, and stress.

Why Self-Respect Is Important

Self-respect exhibits toughness and moral nerve. You will display strong character with the willingness to accept responsibility for your own life, and you’ll fight for your values and beliefs, no matter what. This will make everyone else take note and admire your courage.

Self-respect makes you a better person and partner. If you respect yourself, you believe you’re a worthy individual. And when you feel worthy, you believe you are deserving of love and respect. And when you command respect from others around you, they’d start to appreciate you more and take you more seriously.

No more need for comparisons. When you love yourself you feel good, you value your attributes, your talents, your skills, and  your abilities. Which means that you never compare yourself to others, and you don’t feel jealous when others shine in their own way.

To respect something is to accept it. To respect yourself is to accept yourself. So it’s only until you truly love and respect yourself, accepting who and what you are, that you can start to believe you are worthy of another person’s love and respect. So, in the end it boils down to this: accept yourself, respect your efforts, and you will in the end respect yourself. And self-respect leads to self-discipline. Now that’s real power.

Life is a series of waves, of peaks and troughs, of ups and downs. No one is happy all the time. We tend to experience more lows than highs, and those lows can be much more intense than the highs are. It’s rare to be in a low point in your life and not know it, but it’s all too easy to be living well and to not fully appreciate it. The best way to improve your life is to have self-respect. To demand that others treat you the way you’d treat them – with compassion and respect. Unfortunately, while growing up, everyone repeatedly told you to respect others. And because of this, you may have became obsessed with pleasing everyone else, putting yourself last, as you were told self-importance was wrong. You might even start to confuse self-respect with over-confidence or having an inflated ego, but that’s not accurate. And new research indicates that self-respect is crucial for happiness. The only thing that really matters in life is being happy. Not just content, not just satisfied, but fulfilled and full of meaning. This is a hard goal to reach, and one that’s impossible to live up to all the time.

Here are some suggestions which will help you to increase your self-respect and improve your life :

Don’t allow yourself to be used. People will attempt to take advantage of you throughout your life. Realising when this is happening can be difficult. People are often sly and manipulative.

Know when to say no. Part of having self-respect is being able to turn people down when you don’t want to do something. Be in control of your life. Tell people ‘no’, and stick to your word.

Don’t feel pressured to make everyone like you. Not everyone you meet will like you, and that’s okay. It would be weird if they did. People are different, people like different things. Some people aren’t nice people. Life goes on. However, don’t use this as an excuse to be rude and nasty to people because “who cares what they think?”. Treating others the way you’d like to be treated is an important part of having self-respect.

Have integrity. Integrity is perhaps the most important and elusive of those traits vital to a sense of self-respect It means holding yourself accountable to your own moral code and principles, and sticking up for what is right – even when (especially when) it’s not beneficial to you personally to do so. The high road is a tough one to tread, but it’s infinitely rewarding.

Stand up for yourself. Don’t allow yourself to be a pushover. In an ideal world, everyone would be nice to each other and we’d all get along. Unfortunately, the real world isn’t like that. When it really comes down to it, you need to have your own back and be willing to get your hands dirty to defend yourself.

Know yourself, know your worth. Have confidence in your abilities. Everyone is good at something, even if you haven’t figured out what that something is yet.  Keep trying new things until you do. You have value and you matter. Remember that.

Do what makes you happy. If being happy is the most important thing in life, then doing whatever makes you happy is the best way to ensure you enjoy your life. As long as it’s not hurting anyone else, do whatever it is you enjoy doing.

Spend your time wisely. Don’t make the mistake of thinking money is the most important commodity in life. Time is. Spend it wisely, doing the things you love and with the people who matter most to you. Once the time is gone, you can’t get it back. Don’t be a person full of regret on their deathbed, thinking of all the things they should have done with the time they had. Your life is ending one second at a time.

Prioritise the important things in your life and balance them. We often try (and more often fail) to juggle a large number of different things Prioritise which ones really matter to you and to your self-growth and focus on these, learning to balance them so that you can healthily and realistically manage all the areas of your life.

Meditate, don’t medicate. One of the most important lessons to learn when it comes to having self-respect is how to deal with life’s problems in a healthy and constructive manner. It can be all too tempting at times to drown your sorrows at the bottom of a bottle. The best thing you can do to keep yourself focused and healthy mentally is to meditate often. It’s a skill – practice it. No one is perfect at it straight away, but stick with it and it will help you to become a better, happier person in the long run. Keep in mind that the idea isn’t to silence your thoughts, but to let them come before calmly and gently reminding yourself to try and focus on breathing and keeping a clear mind.

Determine which of your beliefs and values reflect your authentic self. Stick to them and you don’t need to change them for anyone. Under no circumstances should you change your values to suit someone else, as then you will let yourself down. Maya Angelou had aptly advised : “Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.”

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Let Go of a Toxic Relationship

Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it. ~Kevyn Aucoin

Toxic relationships surround your life like a thick cloud of smoke that, at times, appears impossible to escape from. Occasionally, you experience some semblance of joy– perhaps someone complimented you at work or you ran into an old friend, it really doesn’t take much– only to have your partner crush that glimmer of joy like a herd of wildebeest trampling a single, meager flower. This toxicity embeds itself deep within your skin and, over time, affects everything you do. However, despite knowing this, you still hesitate to let go. Maybe you don’t like the idea of being alone again. Maybe you’ve grown so attached to the small bit of light buried within the person and are afraid of the pain you’ll feel if you let go. Or maybe it’s neither of those things and you simply need to work up the courage to take that first step out on your own. Whatever the reason, some incredible things happen once you’ve let go of a toxic relationship. And you owe it to yourself to let go, because until you do, you’re as good as the walking dead.

So, get up, dust yourself off, and get ready. It’s time to get your life back.

You gain a new sense of optimism. Having finally escaped the clutches of negativity, everything will appear fresh and hopeful. You’ll remember what it was like to live free before the chains of toxicity weighed you down. No longer is someone there to dampen your spirits, tell you that you’re not good enough anytime you attempted to pursue a goal, or make you think that you’re nothing but a failure. Everything is possible and you’ve now gained a sense of energy, optimism, and a steely resolve. You’re encouraged to pursue that which they forced you to bury, to do that thing they always convinced you was a bad idea, and to live the life you always wanted.

You grow by leaps and bounds. You’re not the same person you once were– even before them. Your skin is thick, almost armor-like, and you feel as though you have the power to accomplish anything. That might be overconfidence speaking, but damn…you’ve never felt this strong. You’re smarter about who you give your heart to, better at judging people, and more patient about finding the right person. You value your freedom, your voice, and all those little things that make you unique and special.

Your sense of self-worth grows. Their entire purpose at times seemed to be to destroy your entire sense of self-worth, transplanting their venomous voice where your confidence and self-belief once rested. However, now that they’re gone, the veil has been lifted and you can see clearly– that it was all tricks and mirrors, a game of deception that has fallen away and uncovered something you thought had been lost. You’re not just free from poisonous verbal abuse, you’ve now rebounded and become stronger than you once were even before it all started. You still wrestle with the ghost of the demon, but you know it’s gone and have realized a new level of strength and self-worth through mustering the courage to let go and rid yourself of the toxic relationship for good.

You renew connections with family and friends (and make new connections). Something unfortunate happens in many toxic relationships– we distance ourselves from those we love. Whether this happens because of our embarrassment and exhaustion in justifying the person’s behavior or them forcefully taking you away from them, you lose valuable connections that would have been all that you’d have needed to show you that you were falling down a very deep, dark hole before it had gotten worse. However, now, you’re free to rekindle those bonds and strengthen your connections. But more than just that, you have a newfound level of appreciation for those you love and what they mean to you. Not because of what you get out of them but because of pure, unconditional love which you could have only realized by losing them and gaining them back once again.

It’s hard to let go of a toxic relationship, but amazing things await you on the other side of courage. So, take the first step of the rest of your life and don’t allow yourself to live another day as someone else’s slave again.

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