Fear is considered to be the sign of a coward. Not going into the details on why what is be considered as cowardice to fear from and what not, today I want to share a story. A story, that concluded that we humans fear certain things naturally, some fears are no doubt instilled, like some metaphysical ones.
Charles Darwin was one interesting fella with his unique theory of evolution of us humans and much more. He was also interested in the human’s fear for snakes. Yup, we humans naturally fear snakes, its instinctual. Darwin to make himself, you could say immune to the fear of snakes, used to go to a museum. In that museum, there was a typical snake contained in a glass box. Darwin used walk close to the glass box and put his face against it, facing the snake, the snake used to attack his face (obviously he was protected by the glass barrier) and his body would instantly recoil away. He tried several times for many days for his research but he just couldn’t get himself used to the attack and fear of snakes. I have an interesting article for you to look at, here’s some of its content:
New research suggests humans have evolved an innate tendency to sense snakes — and spiders, too — and to learn to fear them.
Psychologists found that both adults and children could detect images of snakes among a variety of non-threatening objects more quickly than they could pinpoint frogs, flowers or caterpillars. The researchers think this ability helped humans survive in the wild.
“The idea is that throughout evolutionary history, humans that learned quickly to fear snakes would have been at an advantage to survive and reproduce,” said Vanessa LoBue, a post-doctoral fellow in psychology at the University of Virginia. “Humans who detected the presence of snakes very quickly would have been more likely to pass on their genes.”
Previously, anthropologists have suggested the need to notice snakes in the wild may have led early primates to develop better vision and larger brains.” Click here to read the full article.
Now where am I going with all this research? Its clear that fear is meant to protect us, but it also hinders us from possibilities of extraordinary growth. What does though? We aren’t living in the wild ages of human history anymore. We are far from being encountered with wild animals. From trying to get away from them to craving and stuffing them in the zoo, era has changed. The snakes and spiders are different now. The fear of failure ranks on top now, death is second. That in itself tells a story to care about. The natural, instinctive fears are not required now, they exist but aren’t needed. The fears we have now are fears inculcated overtime by our communities, peers, friends, unfortunately even parents sometimes. A good example is the fear of ghosts. Its ludicrous how parents make their children eat and behave properly, telling them that if they don’t, the ghost (snake) is going to get them, the paradigm has ridiculously shifted. And worse, they laugh at their own kid being fearful of the ghosts when they grow up. God! How stupid can one be!? You put it their in the first place. “Eat or the dog will get you, its barking outside”, there are countless examples like this. This is just a representation and a general idea of fears that aren’t really some mortal threat. The movie “After Earth” said is best, “…don’t get me wrong, danger is very real, but fear is a choice…”
Till you’re alive you have a chance, till you can breathe, you should be grateful, because you are given a chance. You are reading this blog, means you aren’t in the third world, be grateful because you have a BETTER chance.
“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.” – Seneca
Not your studies, that is totally relevant. Two third of this year is already over, I hope you’ve had some goals completed. We all love the resolutions made in the last week of December, but I can actually bet that you haven’t reached your goals and 9/10 I’ll win it. Making goals is a whole different ball game and for another day. Here, right now, we are going to look into the art of irrelevancy.
I made some resolutions and worked on them with fair satisfaction. But, I found that I was a bit too anxious, not for myself or my goals, but for others. I was anxious that Shroud was losing his subscribers rapidly, Barcelona’s new signings weren’t playing well, I was worried about a ton more. Once you take support of a side you take a pressure and stress. I have heard about people dying from heart attacks after the team lost an important match.
You should or shouldn’t support a team, wish success to a person or not, is totally your choice, but to take stress over what you have no control over, is straight up stupid. I realized that a month ago and now I don’t care who’s at top of Twitch or who wins the Champions League, and believe it or not, it feels like a weight is off. The extra stress is gone and I can fully focus on the stress I have control over, completing my goals. That’s why switching off your phone and working seems so productive, smartphones being a Colosseum of emotions is shut off and you have 50% extra energy to spare that you use in the work you have.
In psychiatry and clinical psychology, students are taught how to be articulate enough to help the patient go through their life’s misery, take them step by step and tell them where they did wrong. I don’t know if you’ve felt it or not, but when you hear a sad story you feel hopeless for yourself as well. A bit of nihilism creeps in sometimes. Imagine how sad a psychiatrist would be then, right? No, they are specially trained to not take someone else’s stress on their own shoulders. One, if they didn’t they would feel the same emotions as their patients and now you have two people in misery, rather than one person guiding through the dark forest. We’ve got to learn something from this fact. Support a team, a person or whatever, its fine, but making them the source of your happiness is where things take a wrong turn. You have no control over them, you can only guide and hint the path to take, they have walk on their own. Support and work on yourself, your effect on them will increase as you grow, not as you obsess on them mindlessly. Its a bit puzzling maybe, but you’ve got to work that out overtime.
Lawyers are really good at it as well, they hear the screams and tears of the client but they stay put and not let that bury them. They quietly work on the case rather than calling them 10 times a day to check if they are eating right. Learn to make things irrelevant, the more things you have to care about in life, the more energy will be distributed and the less productive you will be. If you look at millionaires, CEOs, top athletes, they don’t give a damn about who is at the billboard number one ranking. Dan Lok said that he doesn’t even know how to put in a bulb. Gary Vaynerchuk said he doesn’t care if he can’t fix simple things in the house, he simply calls a guy to do it. See people like this care about one thing only, their goals, they have tunnel vision, with their goal at the end of it. Everything else is irrelevant.
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“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” – Christopher Columbus
Stress, stress and the 14% battery right before leaving your house for work. We all deal with it, well enough or not. Good or bad, an effect takes place, in retrospect. As much as we would like to sit on a shaded chair at a beach, with sunset at a pause, its impractical. Peace never exists without the triumph over chaos. Chaos is the reference used to define peace. You sitting on that beach, a week at most and sooner or later you’ll turn into the crazy old man you loathe to be. The acknowledgment of life’s troubles, raises the question on how they are to be solved.
Prior to giving an examination, I had a friend to whom I had good connection with. We talked about anything that would come up, personal or academic, sports, life, could’ve been anything. Now, both of us were having our own exams and we decided to talk and meet up after our then hectic schedule was cleared up. After 2 months we had a bit of a chat and for some reason the space of our connection seemed void. We had time, but we still didn’t talk for months together. By some luck, we saw each other again in a class and talked a bit daily. I left the place and some weeks had passed when I tried to ring up the person’s phone. No answer. I tried again after a couple of days, still nothing, those days turned to weeks and months.
A day after the new year (yes, it had been that long) I rung up again and decided to delete the number if it didn’t reach. You bet it did, we both were appalled by the sudden call, the other side didn’t even recognize my voice at first. We talked for a couple of hours and it was dropped after a postpone of our conversation to the next day. The next day I waited, I didn’t want to be a nudge in someone’s day by calling myself. I got a bit upset, I waited for couple of more days and yeah, then weeks. I lost hope that we would ever be friends again and I thought maybe I did something to upset the person. Maybe I shouldn’t have called in the first place, maybe a back door exit was what someone was trying to find. I blamed myself and accepted the reality.
I didn’t try to communicate, I just accepted the void. I had other friends, thankfully not the the typical drink buddies, but one’s that can hold even in the tides of atrocities. Recently, I found that a new name with a familiar face as the display picture had popped up in my WhatsApp. I was excited, but sad at the same time. I didn’t know what to do, should I text, or let things be. It was a conundrum I just took as rain drops to take shelter from. After sometime, I don’t know what happened to me, I just sent a text, out of the blue. And there it was, a jolly and excited reply. And since then we are in regular touch.
Why did I share this personal story? Turned out, that the person’s grandparent had died and some more unfortunate events had taken place. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life, maybe not even the reason for their distance or clasp. I learned it the hard way.
There is a Buddhist story in which a hunter is angry and raged about a monkey who keeps on stealing his belongings. He had been trying to catch him for so long but still, nothing came through. An old man comes to him and tells him to stuff a coconut with some delicacies and leave it outside, the hunter follows the advice. He wakes up the next day witnessing the monkey chaotically running in circles with the coconut stuck on his hand.
The poor thing doesn’t realize that all it has to do is let go of the stuffing and the hand will be free. It tries to have everything whilst being unknown of its doomed fate. Interesting enough is the fact that hunters still use this technique to catch monkeys.
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.” – Herman Hesse
As I had promised, here is the process you should go through, to productively discuss dire matters and or preferences. I’ll take you through effective and practical steps you can take to have a civil conversation and annihilate the aura of animosity.
To take the steps required, you have to know how your beliefs were formed. Think, how did you come to the conclusion. Were there facts you looked into, or maybe you actually ‘just’ formed a preference? Messi is my favorite football player. Nope, don’t argue with me on why Ronaldo is better, because I didn’t look into the facts to an apposite depth, he is just my favorite, even if Ronaldo wins 7 Ballon d’Ors. Maybe Ronaldo is better if we look into the facts or maybe Messi will come on top, either way the latter is my favorite. What just happened? Well I have made a preference out of what I have experienced of the play styles of the two. You can’t argue with me with facts and you shouldn’t at all. There is nothing to argue about, my preference to one athlete has no effect onto your player’s performance. Same for any athlete’s favoritism one might have. Why in the world do you want to argue about it? Now take it a bit sideways, if it comes down to preference (made by experience regardless of facts) rather than differentiating facts and information, then compromise is the way to go. There is no, “Because Shimla is colder than Srinagar, hence we are going there!” The statement implies that the opinion was made out of facts, check the facts. “No, actually Srinagar is colder.” There you go, problem solved. The person’s idea of preference was based on temperature and it got debunked, now you know where they are headed.
Step 1: Think about your view.
Yup. As Bruce Lee once said, “Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them”. Maybe, MAYBE, you ARE wrong. Just for the sake of worldly peace look into yourself. Take a good look into your opinion, is it morally correct, is it based on facts or is it just preference. Don’t fall for confirmation bias. Don’t go around looking for the ways your opinion is the best, look at the ways it might be wrong and then decide. Changing views, ideas, and beliefs is hard, our brains like to hold any thought for the sake of it, it hates change, it doesn’t care about right or wrong. But be conscious and think, thinking is hard, but powerful. You’ll also save yourself from a ton of embarrassment. These days social media apps like twitter spam you with chosen facts that make you ensconce on your ideas and opinions, it polarizes us all to an immense degree, be careful.
Step 2: Setting up the environment.
Okay step one is done and you know have come to the conclusion that you are right. How do I tell the other person that he/she is wrong? Right now, the question is, where do I tell the person he/she is wrong? Stop arguing over call and texts, I can’t emphasize this bit enough. Do not ever argue on calls or texts. I have been victim of text misinterpretation numerous times and the same on calls. I’m sure you have too. The voice tonality, facial expression, body language, all matter and now that they are missing, you can’t really blame the other person on why they thought you meant, “Congratulations on your new job!” as a sarcasm. Because they have no way to figure out how you meant it. I have seen so many couple arguing over phone calls and the conversation turns to a death match in an instant. Just keep it in your head, don’t ever argue over something on texting or call.
Find a quiet place, silent your phones and keep them in your pockets, don’t directly face each other. That instinctively comes off as predatory, not at all times but because the situation is already a bit off. That’s why conversation with new people seem much more relaxed when we walk, as we are beside each other, same for the teen lovers walking down the street, sit at an angle, you see that all the time in talk shows, there’s a reason for it.
Step 3: Tape your mouth and unbolt your ears.
Even literally if required. A good way to do this is the talking pillow method. Assign a pillow the powers to talk that it transfers to person its with. Seems silly but incredibly effective. I’d suggest that you genuinely listen to what the other person has to say, even if they are wrong, it’ll let you know how they are wrong and how you can help them to take the right way. So, pass the pillow to them and until they give the pillow back to you, you are dumb as a pot. Take this seriously, don’t talk until he/she hands over the pillow, NOT EVEN A WORD. Don’t even nod in disapproval, that’ll come off as if you are in denial.
Talking pillow scene Breaking Bad:-
Step 4: Time to talk.
Now that the person has talked for an hour and even let out a few piercing remarks or tears, your turn. Don’t care about the remarks, I mean don’t get back at them, act humble, be the wise woman/man in the situation. Now their are a few things to be taken care of: be careful of how to are going to talk, your tonality, your body language. Are you coming off as a wall or chair? Say, “Your coming late hurts me and makes me anxious”, rather than, “Your coming late is very irresponsible and childish.” If its an arguments on politics and stuff, facts are paramount. The thing is, if your way of stating the facts seem too offensive (in order to find the truth you have to risk being offensive) he/she might leave you hanging. Remember, the goal is the change of mind, not winning. So you have to improvise and act in respect to the person’s state.
Step 5: Discuss and conclude.
This is a bit paradoxical actually. There is a chance things might take a U-turn and you are back at square one. Don’t worry follow the steps and repeat the cycle till you conclude. It all depends on the weight of the matter. The more lacerated the wound, the more intricate the process to heal it. George Bernard Shaw said it best, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.
Now that you’ve had a civil conversation in ample amount. Time to take the points one by one, the points you differ on and weigh them on the scale of facts and preferences. As you take your problems one by one, over and over again, days after days, the small details of your life will be strong and well rooted. Relationships will be healthy and your perceptions will be well thought out. Goal is to improve yourself and help others improve.
“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success” – Paul J. Meyer
This post is going to make you rethink your perception of quite a few of your idiosyncrasy. Well one does need a fresh air to sense if where he/she is, is where he/she wants to be. Now, for some time now, the idea of following the crowd has become an anomaly. Even I thought that following the crowd is bad thing, something everyone frowns upon. But why do we follow a crowd?
We humans strive to thrive and to thrive, first and foremost comes survival. Its common sense that the chances of survival of any being is better in a crowd than alone. Your house has a better chance of not being burglarized or mob thrashed if it looks mostly like all the other houses int he locality. Its not just survival either, man doesn’t live by bread alone, we like to socialize. If you look into some of the confessions and interviews of serial killers, murders, and people like that. There’s most of the time one thing that is common; loneliness. The tendency to socialize is suppressed, now I’m not a behavioral scientist, so I don’t know why loneliness and abandonment from a community creates such creatures. Walter Elliot once said, “The desert has its holiness in silence, the crowd has its holiness in conversation”. Though there’s one thing you need to know.
When you don’t talk to others, the ideas you have are given no testing ground and one takes any thought as a gospel. We all know how dangerous that can be. Now where does all this fit into the idea of following the crowd? Its actually not necessarily about following the crowd but being in one. You express yourself in a proper manner, if you are wrong you accept and correct and you move forward, if you are right you spread the information. That’s where a crowd a.k.a community is really productive and important. When does this perk turn black? Now this is a bit difficult to figure out, because we tend to justify our behavior in varying ways.
Because here I’m actually going to talk about the people who are influenced to follow a certain path in life; following a certain career, house is mandatory, two vehicles are required etc. I’m not going to go into the pattern a mob follows. Because here the problem is the norm that’s not made out of a dogma, but a paradigm built over years.
If we look into the typical example of the career choice over decades. Changing people’s mind from getting their kids into the working force from a tender age, to spending hard earned money into an investment that has a return only after two decades or so. The shift was difficult, but the same was about having and saving the girl child. Unfortunately every paradigm takes its time to erode, a long time, that’s why we still see cases of female newborns being dumped into garbage bins every now and then. Why this terrible scar prolongs is because its difficult to change one’s beliefs, I’ve talked about it in previous blogs. Now obviously I’m not justifying the acts someone commits because they didn’t look into their beliefs. Some mass beliefs are dead wrong. But here in lies the clue of weather you should follow something everyone is doing or not.
If we look into when parents used to send their kids to work in farms and stuff like that. It was the best thing to do actually, there weren’t schools in every village, people weren’t educated about the benefits of proper schooling, jobs were limited far more than now and one’s society looked down upon the school boy/girl because they aren’t helping their parents out, rather spending their money. Now after years of effort when parents finally realized the importance of good education and people started sending their kids to school. Careers like engineering and medical sciences was the way to go because the choices were limited, other fields of education weren’t that developed, there weren’t even good teachers that taught subjects that weren’t from engineering and sciences. Now we all know that has changed. The quotes you find all across the internet about not following the crowd doesn’t follow all the structures but it encourages you to think about the one you might be following and if it still is relevant. Adolf Hitler has a quote on the psyche of crowds that is worth thinking about.
“The crowd will finally succeed in remembering only the simplest concepts repeated a thousand times.” – Adolf Hitler