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Self Improvement

117 STASHED IDEAS

  • It is often found that practising hinders progress and that real, authentic and individualistic mastery emerges when one gives up formal practising and gets completely natural and experimental.
  • The 10,000 hours of practice formula, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Outliers, has the stamp of ambition and goal-seeking.
  • Our inner amateur turns the teaching upside down, and instead of ambition, injects fearlessness, spontaneity, aliveness and commitment to the activity.
Frank Morgan (@frankiem) - Profile Photo

@frankiem

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Self Improvement

The word amateur came to the English language in the 18th century, making the distinction between the newbie and the professional. The amateur does the particular activity (painting, music, sport)without any spirit of mastery or competitiveness, making the pursuit itself the reward.

Once we remove goal-seeking or constant competitiveness from our aspirations, we come into the optimal experience zone, which according to many psychologists is akin to happiness.

In the state of flow, our attention is on a limited perceptual field which gets our full attention and investment, not bothered about the score, we are fully into the action and awareness of the activity, doing what we love.

Striving Hard To Live

Our daily lives are filled with ambition, deadlines and competition.

  • It is taught to us that we have to strive for everything: accomplishments, prosperity, or happiness.
  • We have to do stuff: act, think, eat, dance, slog, sleep or practice, trying to optimize our ways of being.

It is a never-ending rat race where the faster we run, the more we have to sprint ahead, as there is always someone ahead of us.

The feeling of awe or extreme wonder changes our mental models, as we are dumbstruck with the new mind-bending information. It can be accompanied by fear, anxiety and delight.

The person experiencing this feeling often has a memorable, beautiful adventure or encounter, that can alter belief patterns and assumptions.

Visual art, paintings and museums have the power to provoke awe, as do movies which have stunning visuals and never-before-seen elements.

Monuments like the Taj Mahal or sculptures like Michelangelo’s David are unique and have always made people forget themselves, engrossed in the visual and historical details.

A simple walk in the forest deepens your thinking, shifts your awareness and fills you with life-giving fresh air. Even a fifteen-minute walk in the park is enough for boosting positive emotions and decreasing daily stress.

An Awe walk happens when we imbibe nature inside us, talking to the living things around us and experiencing the beauty that we never noticed before.

Singing in a choir, going to a concert where a moving song is being played, or playing an instrument produces the feeling of awe, especially if the song is complex and full of emotion.

Making music together, like a band, creates the feeling as it also involves shared movements.

Observing someone with an incredible amount of skill, talent or abilities and watching how the person is moral and courageous is a good start to feeling awe.

Normally, man lives a sensual life, only for the gratification of their senses. Seeing people do something beyond themselves and for the greater good of society is a wonderful, memorable feeling.

Synchronized movement is a graceful, awe-inspiring experience. Moving together helps in strengthening social bonds and making people more cooperative and generous.

Dancing, exercising, walking, playing music or singing together makes for a shared movement that inspires a feeling of awe.

Encountering a big, new idea fills us with its vastness, and we experience ‘cognitive accommodation’ while trying to understand the concept. Ideas found in types of poetry, in quantum physics or the universe can get us to move into discovery and awe.

Even when we see a child understand something and witnessing human development, we are filled with awe.

The beautiful miracle of pregnancy and birth, which shifts towards eventual and inevitable death can be a feeling of awe, even though it is sometimes psychologically complex for many of us.

Life and death are fundamental, and just like the stars, moon, sun and planets, are a source of awe.

  1. Limit your distractions by turning off your phone notifications or asking your loved ones for some space. You need to witness the world with awareness and clarity.
  2. Treat it like a contemplative exercise, focusing your attention outwards with an open mind.
  3. Don’t worry if you don’t feel anything. Everyone has a different definition of this feeling. You will slowly start to see this feeling of wonder in your everyday life.
The Psychology Of Awe And Wonder

For centuries, religious scholars and philosophers have tried to find out the meaning of ‘awe’. It is generally defined as a feeling of being aware and present in something that is mystical and vast, and which we don’t fully understand.

Usually, something vast and dramatic can provoke this feeling of awe, making us go wow with the unusual experience. But apart from the size, this feeling involves an attraction, something that makes us want to accommodate or keep the experience with us, due to our changed understanding of the world.

Religious gatherings, rituals, prayers and other festivals of faith are profound sources of feelings of awe and wonder.

Religious people feel a great sense of selflessness and remember the events as spiritually meaningful and even life-changing.

The wonderful feeling of awe has been connected with a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes and depression. Other benefits include increased life satisfaction, better mood, increased humility, and a better understanding of what is essential and what is consumerism.

Awe makes us less focused on ourselves and more connected with humanity, or the collective consciousness. This has tremendous psychological benefits, akin to meditation or states of flow.

After you've calmed your body, focus on your automatic negative thoughts. You may fall into unhelpful or wrong thinking like catastrophizing - where you imagine the worst-case scenario - or jumping to conclusions where you convince yourself that you know what other people are thinking.

To counter cognitive distortions, simply look at your fingers and consider five alternative explanations for why your boss may be calling the meeting.

Your body may go into a fight-or-flight response when you receive a request to a surprise meeting. You may experience an increased heartbeat, tunnel vision, and sweating.

A simple way to calm yourself is with a mindfulness technique called grounding. It will slow your heart rate, improve your self-control and give you greater command over your thoughts and actions. There are many grounding exercises that you can try.

The best way to deal with the anxiety of the unexpected is through rehearsal.

  • Start by thanking them. "Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I appreciate your willingness to be candid with your concerns."
  • Validate their concerns. "I understand how important it is to have an understanding of .... If I were in your shoes, I would want to know, too."
  • Diplomatically defer if you don't have a response. "I'm happy to share my initial thinking for ... I'd like to reserve the right to investigate and come back to you with a more thorough response."
Panic induced by a surprise meeting

The first thought that goes through almost any professional when they hear the phrase, "Can we talk?", is that they did something wrong. An unexpected meeting can take the most self-assured person aback, especially if it comes from your boss.

This is a normal response that is naturally wired into the brain. It is a protective mechanism designed to keep you safe.

Instead of thinking up stories about your boss's intentions and withdraw in your mind, do the opposite.

Reach out to your boss to clarify the agenda for the meeting. Ask if there is something specific you can prepare. This can give you insight into the reason for calling the meeting while easing your concerns.

The story of a race of warrior women first appeared in Greek mythology, but excavations across the north and east of the Black Sea region revealed that worrier women like the Amazons really existed.

  • In December 2019, the graves of four female warriors from the 4th Century BC Sarmatian region were found in the village of Devitsa - now Western Russia.
  • Excavations within the modern borders of Iran have revealed the existence of female warriors.
  • Experts have identified depictions of women in battle with Greek men on vases and other ceramics.
  • By the 470s, the Greeks began to refer to representations of the Persians as the Amazons.

William Moulton Marston describes his narrative objective as "psychological propaganda for a new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world."

The birth of this feminist character happened just as the attack on Pearl Harbour brought Americans into World War Two. The conflict gave women the option to enlist, enter factories and workplaces, and building expertise in fields secured for men. After the war, most women went back to their homes, but in their hearts, the Wonder Woman had emerged and could not be repressed.

According to Herodotus, a 5th-Century Greek writer and geographer, the Amazons maintained an idyllic all-female existence in modern-day Turkey. The women pillaged the Persian Empire and procreated with neighbouring tribes, raising the baby girls.

They met their fate in a battle against the Greeks in Thermodon. The Amazons eventually entered Scythia near the Black Sea and joined forces. Their descendants are the Sarmatians.

Besides Greece, many ancient cultures told tales of warrior women such as Persia, Egypt, Rome, Caucasus, Central Asia, Mongolia, India, and China.

In the US, the comic book character of Wonder Woman, inspired by the Amazonian warrior woman mythos, was created in 1941 by psychologist William Moulton Marston. The story goes that the Amazon Princess Diana was moulded out of clay by her mother Hippolyta and brought to life by the gods.

Wonder Woman may have roots in Ancient Persia
  • The movie Wonder Woman (2017) is set in Europe during World War One. Its successor is situated in Washington DC, 70 years later. Both films are told in flashback, where we see glimpses of young Diana Prince on her birth island of Themyscira.
  • The Amazons of Greek mythology and the real-life worrier women that let to Wonder Woman might have root in ancient Persia - modern-day Iran.

Researchers found that imagining walking through a doorway can also interfere with your memory. Worse still, phrases that insert a temporal boundary between events have the same sort of mental divider as a doorway. For example, reading a sentence that starts with "A few hours later..."

This tells us that our brains operate with certain mechanical dynamics. When you can't remember why you walked through a doorway, don't be alarmed. Your brain simply thought the doorway meant you needed a memory divider.

The doorway effect

Walking through a doorway can make you forget. You'll walk from one room to another with a clear idea of whatever you need to do, but when you get there, you can't remember what you wanted to do. Studies show that a doorway seems to insert a mental divider into memory.

Our brains record memories in segments, rather than as a continuous event. Passing through a doorway triggers a pause between events and in that tiny pause, connective parts of memories can be lost.

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