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Worrying about the future

Worrying is the mental habit of trying to solve a problem that either can’t be solved or isn’t really a problem. 

It gives us the illusion of control. Worrying about it won’t change things. But it will lead to a lot of anxiety.


6 Subtle Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Happiness | Nick Wignall

Isolating yourself

When we hide our pain and isolate ourselves, we throw away the most powerful antidepressant: loving support from people who care about us.

You don’t need coping strategies when you’re sad discouraged, or helpless. You need people. You need support. You need someone to give you a hug and listen carefully to your story.

Keeping quiet

Most of us hesitate to push back and stand up for ourselves because we’re afraid of being perceived as aggressive or rude. And so we default to being passive.

But there’s a middle road between being passive and aggressive: You can be assertive. It means standing up for your own wants, needs, and values, in an honest and respectful way.

Talking trash to yourself

If you talked to other people the way you talked to yourself, you’d probably have zero friends, no job, and multiple warrants out for your arrest. Why treat yourself in a different way?

Trying to manage stress

Stress management is a Band-Aid. It’s treating the symptoms.

If you’re constantly stressed, the long-term solution is to fix the original cause of the stress (the stressor) not the feeling (the stress response).

Believing your own thoughts

Cultivate a healthy skepticism of your own thoughts. Learn to let them be. You’ll be happier for it.

Your thoughts aren’t special. And a lot of them are actively detrimental if you maintain a habit of always giving them tons of respect and attention.

Eckhart Tolle
"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but you thoughts about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. "
Making Reversible Or Fixable Decisions Fast

You don't need to make the perfect decision all the time, and if you want to preserve your decision-making energy for the things that actually matter, then try to make decisions that are not critical (e. g. deciding what toothpaste and toilet paper to buy or which Airbnb to rent) as quickly as possible.

If they are reversible (easily undone - like being able to get a refund for something or being able to buy another cheap item) even if they seem like big decisions, making these decisions quickly is a habit worth cultivating, that will save you a lot of energy so that you are more perceptive for the decisions where the stakes are higher.

Tim Ferriss: Decision-Making Mental Models — Using Intuition

This practice involves writing down the best and worst-case scenarios for different options. They are good for investing-related decisions but can be applied to many other instances: If you can cap the downside, and there is an asymmetrical upside, then you know at least your maximum losses.

These are more helpful and more actionable than pro-con lists (which can be just long lists of different things to compare and contrast).

A Whole Body Yes

When you're considering a decision, scan your head-> chest-> gut and look for a YES signal in all three areas; that is the only situation in which you should say yes.

To identify what a YES feels like, it's helpful to first look for NO signals: meaning, for any contractions in your head, chest, and gut.

This practice is helpful when you did all the objective analysis and they all say you should do something, but that conclusion feels off.

When you say that "your intuition told you to do X" but you haven't really done any risk-benefit analysis, it means you haven't really thought through the decision, you just want to do something and you use intuition as an excuse.

Intuition is most helpful when it is pointing in a different direction from your previous analysis.

Heidi Grant Halvorson
"In a fast-moving, competitive world, being able to learn new skills is one of the keys to success. It’s not enough to be smart — you need to always be getting smarter."

How to Master a New Skill

Learning a new skill takes commitment. And there are certain limits to what you can learn. So, before starting working on a new skill, ask yourself:

  • If your goal really is attainable
  • How much time and energy you can give to this process.

Make sure the skills you've chosen are relevant to your career, your organization, or both. 

Gaining a new skill is an investment and you need to know upfront what the return will be.

You can find out your ideal learning style by looking back: review your past learning experiences and make a list of the good ones and another list of bad ones, in order to see the elements they had in common.

By doing this, you'll be able to define the learning environment that works for you.

Find and approach someone you trust who has mastered the skill you’re trying to attain. This will greatly increase your learning.

If you can’t find a mentor inside your company, look for people in your industry or from your network

Choose one or two skills to focus on at a time, and break them down into manageable goals. This will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.

Also, take the time to reflect on what you're learning. Thinking and talking about your progress will help you get valuable feedback and will keep you accountable.

One of the quickest ways to learn something new, and to practice it, is to teach others how to do it. 

So share what you learn with your team, your manager, or your co-workers. 

need to constantly look for opportunities to stretch ourselves in ways that may not always feel comfortable at first. Continual improvement is necessary to get ahe
The Semmelweis Reflex

We often want to stick with our current beliefs even when new knowledge seems to contradict them. This is known as the Semmelweis reflex - a dangerous phenomenon that has caused many deaths throughout history.

The theory is named after Ignaz Semmelweis

  • In 1846, Ignaz Semmelweis had a breakthrough when he discovered that when doctors washed their hands before treating patients and delivering babies, it resulted in a drop in maternal deaths from puerperal fever to 1%.
  • Despite his discovery, his teachings were rejected, he was sacked from the Vienna General Hospital. He became severely depressed and wrote open letters to obstetricians calling them irresponsible murderers.
  • He was eventually lured into an asylum and died at aged 47. Twenty years later, Louis Pasteur carried forward his work. The germ theory of disease is now widely accepted.

The Semmelweis Reflex: when current beliefs trump new knowledge

The Semmelweis reflex is a knee-jerk tendency to reject new evidence. It's a form of confirmation bias where we deny objective evidence, even if it could bring transformative improvement.

We can train ourselves to avoid the Semmelweis Reflex by not holding too hard to our beliefs and keeping an open mind when faced with new data.

  • Assess your dogmatic beliefs. It is any belief you hold unquestioningly.
  • Make room for genuine curiosity. Every time you have an automatic reaction against a new piece of information, allow space for honest exploration.
  • Critically accept or reject new findings. Taking into account that you may have biases, apply critical thinking to the new evidence.
The sequential (or analytic) learner

It is an analytic person likes to learn things step-by-step, or sequentially.

Knowing if you are a sequential learner can help you take advantage of the study recommendations.

This Is How to Discover Your Best Study Method

  • Sequential learners are more likely to respond to a problem with logic, instead of emotion.
  • You may feel the need to understand each part of an algebra equation.
  • You may be good with time management.
  • You tend to remember names.
  • Your notes are categorized and labelled.
  • You plan ahead.


  • You may get hung up on details because you have to understand before you move on.
  • You get frustrated when people don't understand things as quickly as you do.
  • Ask for clear rules. Without rules, you might feel lost.
  • Don't worry about not finishing a task. Sometimes it is good to move on and re-visit a project later.
  • Don't worry if some things don't seem logical.
  • Group your information since you are good at categorising things.
  • Sit in front of the class to avoid getting distracted.
  • Don't worry about big concepts you don't grasp right away. You may need to know all the details first before you can put them together.
  • Take things step-by-step, but don't get hung up if you don't understand a specific step.
  • Ask for clear goals if you feel you need them.

Analytic learners like facts and like learning things in sequential steps.

Many of their preferred methods are used in traditional teaching. Teachers generally give tests that favour analytic learners, such as true and false or multiple choice exams.

"Learning is deeper and more durable when it's effortful... Learning that's easy is like writing in sand, here today and gone tomorrow."

 -  Make It Stick: The Science Of Successful Learning 

7 Memory Skills That Will Make You Smarter

Retrieval is so effective is that it strengthens the neural pathways associated with a given concept.

When you're attempting to recall an idea, method, or technique from memory, you're retrieving. Flash cards are a great example: They force you to recall an idea from memory, unlike a technique like highlighting where you're not burning anything into your brain. 

... to what you already know.

When you try to put a new idea into your own words, you're elaborating.

For example, if you're in physics class and trying to understand heat transfer, try to tie the concept into your real-life experiences, say, by imagining how a warm cup of coffee disperses heat into your hands.

When you work on a variety of things at once, you're interleaving.

 If you're trying to understand a subject — from the basics of economics to hitting a pitch — you're going to learn better if you mix up your examples.

When you try to give an answer before it's given to you, you're generating.

In an academic setting, you could work finding your own answers before class starts. In a professional setting, you could supply your own ideas when you're stuck before talking with your boss.

When you take a few moments to review what happened with a project or meeting, you're reflecting.

Reflective writing is super powerful. You might ask yourself a few questions: What went well? Where can you improve? What does it remind you of? Reflective writing to be super powerful.

When you're using an acronym or image to recall something, you're using a mnemonic. 

Example: The hall of fame includes abbreviations — Roy G. Biv for the colors of the spectrum ( Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) — and rhyming, like "in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue."

Bad Decisions Are Not Accidental

Critical thinking, logic and reasoning are crucial elements of a decision, and sometimes get skipped due to our initial excitement coupled with intuition.

We fall into three basic traps of bad thinking, leading to wrong and often costly decisions: The Rosy Scenario Trap, The Wrong Ingredient Trap and The Binary Thinking Trap.

Bad Decisions Don’t Just Happen - Michael Hyatt

Any overly optimistic, idealistic or ‘positive vision’ decision can be a red flag of non-effectiveness.

Simply believing in a product does not guarantee high revenue. One has to get ‘nosy’ and not just ‘rosy’ in order to get towards reality.

While enjoying a ride in the sailboat of success, one can sometimes wrongly identify the ingredient that is responsible for the great outcome.

Misidentification or a wrong assumption of the key success ingredient is an easy mistake to make, and one has to do objective research to avoid major losses of a failure.

Decision-makers sometimes self-limit the available choices, making them fall into two extreme, oversimplified alternatives. The reason for this is the desire to be action-oriented and efficient.

Leaders need to understand that probability of the choices being simply 0 or 1 is rare, and there have to be more alternatives if they do the required critical thinking, which would lead to effective outcomes.

An analogy is a comparison that asserts a parallel between two distinct things, based on the perception of a shared property.

Analogies appear in metaphors, similes, political slogans, legal arguments, marketing taglines, mathematical formulas, biblical parables, logos, TV ads, euphemisms, proverbs, fables, and sports clichés.

How Analogies Can Make You Better at Arguments

An analogy is a tool

Analogies are arguments that operate unnoticed. Like icebergs, they conceal most of their mass and power beneath the surface.

Analogies are also used in innovation and decision making. For instance, the "bicycle for the mind” that Steve Jobs envisioned as a Macintosh computer.

Using analogies help us to communicate effectively. For example, Warren Buffett noted "You never know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out,” meaning when times are bad, hidden weaknesses are exposed.

Lack of awareness of an analogy's influence can come at a cost. The ability to construct a good analogy can help you reach your outcomes.

Analogies frame situations

Effective, persuasive analogies frame situations and arguments.

Like picture frames, conceptual frames include ideas, images and emotions and exclude others. It can be used for better or worse, and influence the direction of the thinking of all parties.

When we deconstruct analogies, we find out why they function so effectively.

Analogies meet five criteria:

  • Use the highly familiar to explain something less familiar.
  • Highlight similarities and obscure differences.
  • Identify useful abstractions.
  • Tell a coherent story. The narrative need not be accurate. It is the feeling and ideas the analogy evokes that makes it powerful.
  • Resonate emotionally.

A good analogy serves as an intellectual springboard that helps us jump to conclusions. It is efficient if the findings are likely to be correct, and can save time and effort.

However, if the analogy is misleading, we are likely not to notice. Assumptions reinforce our preconceptions and preferences, known as confirmation bias. All statements should be considered and evaluated, even if they confirm the beliefs we currently hold.

Understanding probability

Understanding probability will help you get a more correct picture of the world and help you make better decisions.

Most of us fall prey to the same handful of issues because aspects of probability go against what we think is intuitive.

Common Probability Errors to Avoid

When two event are interconnected, the former happening increases or decreases the probability of the latter happening.

  • Your car insurance gets more expensive after an accident because car accidents are not independent events. A person who gets in one is more likely to get into another in the future.
  • Most of our plans don’t go as we’d like. We get delayed, we have to backtrack, we have to make unexpected changes. Sometimes we think we can compensate for a delay in one part of a plan by moving faster later on. But the parts of a plan are not independent. A delay in one area makes delays elsewhere more likely as problems compound and accumulate.

In Naked Statistics, Charles Wheelan explains: “A different kind of mistake occurs when events that are independent are not treated as such . . . If you flip a fair coin 1,000,000 times and get 1,000,000 heads in a row, the probability of getting heads on the next flip is still 1/2. The very definition of statistical independence between two events is that the outcome of one has no effect on the outcome of another.

While particular improbable events are improbable, the chance of any improbable event happening at all is highly probable.

  • Your chances of getting struck by lightning are almost zero. But with so many people walking around and so many storms, it has to happen to someone sooner or later.
  • The same is true for clusters of improbable events. The chance of any individual getting struck by lightning more than once is even closer to zero than the chance of it happening once. Yet when we look at all the people in the world, it’s certain to happen to someone.
When technology bites back

In many ways, technology improves and enriches our lives. Yet, there is a sense that we have lost control of our technology in some ways and end up victims of its unintended consequences.

Author Edward Tenner coined the term "revenge effects" to describe how technologies can solve one problem while creating other worse problems, new types of issues, or shifting the harm elsewhere. In other words, technology bites back.

When Technology Takes Revenge

When we introduce a new piece of technology, it is wise to consider if we are interfering with a bigger system. If we do, we should reflect on it's wider consequences.

But, if the factors involved get complex enough, we cannot anticipate them with accuracy. Understanding revenge effects is mostly a reminder of the value of caution and not of specific risks.

  • Repeating effects: This occurs when more efficient processes end up making us do the same things more often. Better appliances have led to higher standards of cleanliness, tempting people to spend the same amount of time on housework.
  • Recomplicating effects: As technology improve, the processes become more complex. A lighting system that needs to be operated through an app, making it difficult for a visitor just to flip a switch.
  • Regenerating effects: Attempts to solve a problem end up creating additional risks. Pesticides can create superbugs that are resistant to harm.
  • Rearranging effects: When costs are transferred elsewhere, so risks shift and worsen. Vacuum cleaners can blow dust mite pellets into the air, making it easier to breathe in.

The more we try to control our tools, the more they can make it worse.

  • Before the Industrial Revolution, technology was a tool that served as an extension of the user. In a complex system, the machine is more than a device. It needs parts that interact in unexpected and unwanted ways. For example, the fear of a plane crash prompts the creation of greater safety standards.
  • Many revenge effects are the result of attempts to improve safety. To control the acute, it indirectly promotes chronic problems. The removal of asbestos reduced fire safety but moving the material is more harmful than leaving it.
  • A revenge effect is not a side effect. It is a revenge effect if it reverses the benefit for at least a small subset of users. Typing on a laptop has increased carpal tunnel syndrome, while the physical effort using a typewriter protected workers from some of the harmful effects.
  • The revenge effect is also not a tradeoff - exchanging a benefit for another.
  • We can expect revenge effects, even if they cannot be predicted.
  • In chains of cause and effect within complex systems, the real benefits are not the ones we expected, and the real threats of not those we feared.
  • We should be careful about becoming overconfident about our ability to see the future. The revenge effect may depend on knowledge we don't yet have.
  • Before we intervene in a system, assuming it can only improve things, we should be aware that our actions can make it worse or do nothing at all.




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