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The One Thing You Can Control Right Now: Yourself

Creating An Alter Ego

  • A new identity, even if only in our imagination, makes us mentally transform into that person and imbibe their habits, and working style.
  • When kids pretend to be their favorite characters, they are able to regulate their emotions and manage their frustration.
  • Adults can use this ‘alter ego’ method to channel someone who is competent for the task at hand.

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The One Thing You Can Control Right Now: Yourself

The One Thing You Can Control Right Now: Yourself

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-one-thing-you-can-control-right-now-yourself-11598403600

wsj.com

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Key Ideas

The One Thing We Can Control: Ourselves

Self-control is a necessary and much sought-after skill in this increasingly complex world. There are a million distractions, multiple stress-inducing outlets and a chronic lack of sleep for most of us, and self-control becomes the only bandwidth that we have.

People who are reactive will find self-control challenging, as compared to resilient and conscientious individuals.

Two Ways To Boost Self-Control

  • Form better habits: you can practice self-control on a daily basis by switching off the phone when you need to sleep or work, walking more, and getting to bed early to be able to wake up early.
  • Reframing your thinking: also called cognitive reappraisal, it essentially means broadening your perspective beyond the present moment.

Self-Control And Mental Distancing

By using a third-person point of view, you create a psychological distance between you and the ‘object of your temptation’.

Studies prove that this quirky practice of talking to yourself decreases anxiety and stress.

Creating An Alter Ego

  • A new identity, even if only in our imagination, makes us mentally transform into that person and imbibe their habits, and working style.
  • When kids pretend to be their favorite characters, they are able to regulate their emotions and manage their frustration.
  • Adults can use this ‘alter ego’ method to channel someone who is competent for the task at hand.

Time Travelling And Your Future Self

Thinking about past challenges that were resolved by us helps us get into the ‘glory’ mode and reclaim it in the present, along with envisioning a future point in time when things will be better.

Imagining our future self makes us harder to take the bait of instant gratification, and helps us identify the various challenges and obstacles that are inevitable.

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Humor during a crisis

For ancient Greek philosophers, humor was something that had the potential to undermine authority and the good order.

Today, in democratic societies, those in power are mocked and their p...

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  • Humor, in a way, protects us from life's grim reality. We joke because if we didn't, we'd cry.
  • Humor and laughing are also a social vocalization that includes some and excludes others. Jokes establish who is inside the group and who is not. We laugh with people to belong, and at others to exclude.
  • In our current crises, humor is everywhere because fear is too. Laughter binds us together against a common enemy.
When to joke

Poking fun at the ills of the world is only funny if they are considered benign. No one is making memes about child abuse that may increase during periods of enforced domestic isolation.

Observations about people's behavior can be funny if they poke fun at a social norm in a relatively inoffensive way, such as hoarding toilet paper.

Community Is Vital

Loneliness is not a problem in traditional societies. For 99% of human existence, we lived in small tribes. We were constantly surrounded by family and friends. 

Research links loneli...

"Mens sana in corpore sano"

Having a healthy body is essential to having a sound mind. Exercising is a habit that’s been shown to lead people to create other, often unrelated, good habits. Exercising is also a proven way to improve the rate of learning.

"Know Thyself"

Knowing yourself allows you to seize opportunities and make better decisions as well as know what you and others should expect from you and how to counteract your personal flaws.

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Why A Pandemic Is Uniquely Stressful
  • All of our attention is being focused on the threatening aspects of the situation.
  • Headlines are dominated by places where the pandemic is currently hitting the hardest.
  • Our...
Tackling Your Anxiety
  • Reach out to a mental health professional, even if you can’t meet with them in person.
  • Reframe the virus outbreak by temporal distancing, or by focusing your attention on a longer timescale.
  • Try putting the outbreak in historical context (there have been many pandemics during our history).
  • Limit how much information you consume about the new virus outbreak. Find the right balance between being informed and being overwhelmed.
Stress-Reducing Activities
  • Try meditation or any anxiety-busting method that works for you.
  • Look for things that are future-oriented and pleasurable.
  • Do tasks around the house you have been putting off.
  • Think of activities you can still do with your loved ones, even if you can't be with them physically.
Externalities

An externality affects someone without them agreeing to it. It can be positive or negative. Most externalities are small but can make a significant impact over time. Understanding the types of exte...

The First Law of Ecology

We can never do one thing. We should consider what the second-order consequences will be. When we interact with a system, we need to find out what the broader repercussions of our actions will be.

Negative Externalities

They can occur during the production or consumption of a service or goods. Calling something a negative externality can be a way of avoiding responsibility.

If a factory pollutes nearby water supplies, it causes harm without added costs to the factory. The costs to society are high and are not reflected in the price of whatever the factory produces. Even if pollution is taxed, the harmful effects still remain.

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Gain Control Over Your Mood
  • Label Your Emotions: There are times that you might feel different emotions. Pay attention to what's really going on inside you to help you take a lot of sting out of that em...
Mood Control = Positive Outlook

Emotions are powerful and managing it is tough at times. But by gaining control over them makes you mentally stronger.

You'll gain confidence in your ability to handle discomfort while also knowing that you can make healthy choices that shift your mood.

Self-Control Components

Self-control has two components:

  • Our ability to resist temptations
  • Our ability to exercise control over our behaviour and emotions.
  • ...
Self Control and Eating Healthy

While it’s obvious we need to exhibit a certain amount of self-control while choosing what we put in our bodies, that is not the whole story.

If we educate our bodies and learn about nutrition, longevity and how our individual bodies function, we could be eating a lot healthier.

The Pleasures Of Life

There is a lot of stuff available for us to do that makes us feel better instantly. Watching TV, going to the beach, drinking alcohol, smoking, and almost every other activity that seems pleasurable to us, giving us temporary pleasure in a jiffy. When we keep doing that, the long term effects are bad, and we feel older, weaker, sicker, while not having any achievement in our lives.

This is a natural process of a slow movement towards disorder, is also the second law of thermodynamics, called Entropy.

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Self-control
Self-control

It’s your ability to resolve conflicts between your short-term desires and your long-term goals.

For example, successful self-control means sacrificing immediate pleasure (cookies a...

Why self-control matters

People who have high self-control aren’t missing out on enjoyment. Not being able to resist temptation and enjoying life are not the same things.

They tend to eat in a healthily way, exercise more, sleep better, drink less alcohol, smoke fewer cigarettes, achieve higher grades at university, have more peaceful relationships, and are more financially secure.

Biological limits to self-control

Research showed that self-control is ultimately limited by our biology. We can’t exercise effortful self-control indefinitely – the brain has to do regular maintenance to remain functional.

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Don't reinvent the wheel

Mimic and get help from someone who’s already learned it to get tips and save time.

In order to achieve mastery faster, our first step should be to consult the top players in the field and model the path they have already carved out for us.

Deconstruct the skill

...into its basic, fundamental components, to find the most important things to practice first. This shows that very few things actually make a difference in any aspect of our lives, including learning.

Use the Pareto Principle: which describes a goal of generating 80 percent of results by putting in 20 percent of the effort.

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Stoicism: the art of staying calm

Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy that was founded by Zeno of Citium, in Athens, in the early 3rd century BC.
It is an ancient tool for remaining calm in adversity, a philosophical ...

“The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skilful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.”

“The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skilful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.”

“Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”

“Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”

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