Archive of June 2017

Jun 30, 2017

Faced with a problem, the temptation is always to ask how to solve it, or to get rid of it; but an alternative is to ask what it’s trying to tell you. “We must recognise that our problems have not been randomly inflicted on us,” write the Jungian psychologists Marcella Weiner and Mark Simmons. “They have a purpose, to act as guideposts pointing the way toward healing and wholeness.” Figure out why you’re drawn to someone you also in some ways can’t stand, then, and the question of whether you should stick it out or leave may suddenly seem rather obvious. Sometimes, at least – to quote the title of Weiner and Simmons’ book – the problem is the solution.

Jun 23, 2017

Letting go of an idea, too, can be more satisfying than just putting it in a metaphorical drawer and willing yourself to forget about it. If you know you’re never going to do anything with it, Douglas argued, why not let it find a home where it stands a chance? Release your idea into the wilds of the internet for someone else to pick up. Or, better yet, do that with all your ideas, one massive unloading of all the things that never made it past the initial brainstorm stage. And if there are any that you truly can’t bear to get rid of — well, if it sparks joy, it’s probably a sign that it’s time to get to work.
In a paradoxical twist, the research suggests that the less we think about ourselves, the better we become. Self-transcendence not only allows us to overcome our greatest fears and break through our limits, but it also improves our performance in less heroic, everyday activities.
The researchers also offered some advice for how to put their findings to use: “Set [breaks] at regular intervals — use a timer if you have to. When it goes off, switch tasks: Organize your reimbursement receipts, check your email, or clean your desk, and then return to the original task,” they wrote. “If you’re hesitant to break away because you feel that you’re on a roll, be mindful that it might be a false impression.” Sometimes, what feels like productivity is really just you regenerating old ideas — and sometimes, the path to real productivity leads you through a stretch of doing nothing.
There’s a broader point here. From inside their rigid mindset, participants were unable to see they were in a rigid mindset, just as a fish can’t see water, and many psychological states seem to work the same way. Take anger: in the very moment that you feel utterly furious about something minor – someone jumping the queue, say – your disproportionate rage feels proportionate. Loneliness makes people want to retreat from socialising, when the opposite would help. When you’re demotivated, you can’t see that doing whatever you’re avoiding is the route to feeling motivated. And so on. The trick is not blindly to trust your own thoughts and feelings, but learn to second-guess them. A plan can be one way to do that, because it’s a guide to action that doesn’t rely on what you feel like doing. Which is why – not to bang on about this – schedules are a good idea.
Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.
— Ellen Goodman (via swissmiss | Normal)
If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.
— Thomas Jefferson (via swissmiss | Never Done)
The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.
— Cal Newport (via swissmiss | Deep Work)
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
— Max Planck (via swissmiss | Change)

Jun 6, 2017

We don’t have a media and tech ecosystem that rewards long-term, thoughtful, contemplative, slow, meaningful choices.