Self Improvement


Pyrrho is considered the first Skeptic philosopher. He thought we waste so much time and effort demanding solutions where there's only doubt that we're destined to be unhappy.

Instead, he thought we ought to adopt a position of suspended judgement, or epoché. If someone asks you for your views, you ought to simply demonstrate epoché and say that you only have your opinion and conclude that there is no absolute answer.

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Self Improvement

The Roman Sextus Empiricus further developed the idea of Skepticism. He thought everything we claim to know was open to doubt and added that there could be no possible way to resolve this challenge. For Sextus, both opinions are equally valid.

Recognising the limits to our understanding is deeply comforting. We can let go of dogmatically defending views we have no way to know for sure are correct. We can still aim for something but also accept we may never succeed.

Skepticism - we know very little with any certainty

The central belief of Skepticism is that there is little we can know with absolute certainty. There will always be a second opinion or a different perspective.

The Greek Pyrrho of Elis, and the Roman Sextus Empiricus thought recognizing Skepticism is the best thing philosophy can give us.

This fantastic invention has made it possible for millions of people to watch the moon landing, Olympic games, the Royal Wedding, the World Cup, primetime sitcoms like Dallas or Seinfeld, and more recently the Netflix series Bodyguard.

Television has the power to trigger our imagination, encourage learning, arouse curiosity and bind people together. It is the world's common room where shared memories are broadcast.

The Power Of Television

Invented in 1926 by Scottish inventor John Logie Baird, the Television has been an incredible, long-lasting creation, having the power to take us to wonderful places where we can experience news, entertainment, sports and real or fictional stories of all kinds.

The first transmission was broadcast by Baird, who later also invented the first colour television.

As TV becomes unimaginably diverse, wild and daring due to the advent of internet giants and on-demand services, it has also become social.

Watercooler talks have more often than not been based on what a particular sports event, news or sitcom was on TV the day before. Important stories usually kick start great conversations and this effect has been amplified with the advent of social media, particularly Twitter.

Apart from man landing on the moon for the first time in 1969, Television has been a home of many events and first-time broadcasts.

The first interracial kiss was shown in 1968 in a Star Trek (The Original Series) episode. The TV has made us living witnesses to ground-breaking news events like the Iranian embassy siege or the 9/11 attacks.

"Behind every successful man is a woman. Behind her is his wife."

The developing cinema industry, which had a much more glamorous appeal, overshadowed the NYC stand-up comedy, but the concept was taken and refined by comedians in the 1950s, in other places in New York, along with San Francisco. Stand-up comedy was here to stay.

The Origins Of Stand-Up Comedy

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, America pioneered the concept of stand-up comedy, an art form that was an odd kind of basic, no-frills entertainment. A person facing a crowd, with a mic in hand, has to make them laugh.

The origins of stand-up comedy are traced to burlesque shows at New York City’s vaudeville theaters, mostly catering to people familiar with modern city life. The initial shows by the earliest ‘stand-up’ comedians were short and full of slapstick humor, as if racing to please the audience in the least amount of time.

The first person to actually be on stage and do a stand-up act was Charley Case, at the vaudeville theatre, NYC, some time in the 1880s or 1890s.

He fit the quiet, neurotic comedian stereotype, and came across as a tortured, depressed comedian. Even his death was attributed to a revolver accident at an NYC hotel, sparking rumours of suicide.

The initial content of stand-up comedy wasn’t sarcasm or observational comedy. It had standard gags that involved gold-digging females, harping ladies, problems with money, and chasing unattainable women.

The routines were kept lively, fast-paced and punchy.

When we access the lives of people around us, we are essentially comparing ourselves with them, using them as a benchmark to how our lives are going. If they are suffering, we feel secure and happy. If the people we watch are having a gala time, we get envious or motivated but learn new things we didn’t know before. We are basically picking up the cues and learning the rules of life.

It is a way of coping with the unique challenges and constraints of the current times, making sense of the world in flux.

Voyeurism and curiosity for forbidden or private information is part of our learning about the world and processing how it works.

New age platforms like TikTok and Snapchat help us cross virtual spaces, something that wasn’t possible before. This was especially needed during the lockdown periods of 2020.

The Voyeuristic World

Voyeurism, something that was a reality much before reality TV and Instagram stories have always been part of human instinct, and are often illicit or sexual in nature.

Social media, reality TV and entertainment sections of mainstream media have turned us all into voyeurs. The pandemic has increased our average time spent online, where we are consuming information news and updates, more and more curious about what is happening with others.

Our nervous system, specifically the vagus nerve, regulates threat and stressful situations, with a three-part response:

  1. Level 1 - Immobilization: Reptiles, mammals and humans can suddenly become immobile when faced with a dire threat.
  2. Level 2 - Mobilization: Faster heartbeat and an adrenaline rush is a classic fight-or-flight response and the most common.
  3. Level 3 - Engagement And Connection: When there is safety, our body releases oxytocin, helping one become more open and experience connectedness, leading to learning and collaboration.
Stressful Situations And Our Response

Our natural tendency when confronted is to be defensive, and it is often hard to keep cool during a stressful situation.

The Polyvagal Theory, based on new research in neuroscience offers some insights on this automatic ‘fight-or-flight’ self-regulation done by us during moments of anxiety, pressure and stress. Specific tactics in the theory help us provide a better response which involves creativity, collaboration and thriving.

  1. Understand and identify the reactions the body is giving.
  2. Recognize the level 1(immobilization) or level 2(fight-or-flight) responses.
  3. Recall previous experiences and find those where the mind was able to navigate a challenging situation.
  4. Focus on the intention and let the oxytocin be released in your body, helping you shift to Level 3.
  5. Trust the process and explore/develop ideas with the other person, making it a learning process, which is mutually beneficial.

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