The Proven Path to Doing Unique and Meaningful Work
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Posted by: 01dragonslayer - 3 hours ago - No Replies

In June of 2004, Arno Rafael Minkkinen stepped up to the microphone at the New England School of Photography to deliver the commencement speech.
As he looked out at the graduating students, Minkkinen shared a simple theory that, in his estimation, made all the difference between success and failure. He called it The Helsinki Bus Station Theory.
The Helsinki Bus Station TheoryMinkkinen was born in Helsinki, Finland. In the center of the city there was a large bus station and he began his speech by describing it to the students.
“Some two-dozen platforms are laid out in a square at the heart of the city,” Minkkinen said. “At the head of each platform is a sign posting the numbers of the buses that leave from that particular platform. The bus numbers might read as follows: 21, 71, 58, 33, and 19. Each bus takes the same route out of the city for at least a kilometer, stopping at bus stop intervals along the way.”
He continued, “Now let’s say, again metaphorically speaking, that each bus stop represents one year in the life of a photographer. Meaning the third bus stop would represent three years of photographic activity. Ok, so you have been working for three years making platinum studies of nudes. Call it bus #21.”
“You take those three years of work to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the curator asks if you are familiar with the nudes of Irving Penn. His bus, 71, was on the same line. Or you take them to a gallery in Paris and are reminded to check out Bill Brandt, bus 58, and so on. Shocked, you realize that what you have been doing for three years others have already done.”
“So you hop off the bus, grab a cab—because life is short—and head straight back to the bus station looking for another platform.”
“This time,” he said, “you are going to make 8×10 view camera color snapshots of people lying on the beach from a cherry picker crane. You spend three years at it and three grand and produce a series of works that elicit the same comment. Haven’t you seen the work of Richard Misrach? Or, if they are steamy black and white 8x10s of palm trees swaying off a beachfront, haven’t you seen the work of Sally Mann?”
“So once again, you get off the bus, grab the cab, race back and find a new platform. This goes on all your creative life, always showing new work, always being compared to others.”
“Stay on the Bus”Minkkinen paused. He looked out at the students and asked, “What to do?”
“It’s simple,” he said. “Stay on the bus. Stay on the f*cking bus. Because if you do, in time, you will begin to see a difference.”
“The buses that move out of Helsinki stay on the same line, but only for a while—maybe a kilometer or two. Then they begin to separate, each number heading off to its own unique destination. Bus 33 suddenly goes north. Bus 19 southwest. For a time maybe 21 and 71 dovetail one another, but soon they split off as well. Irving Penn is headed elsewhere.”
“It’s the separation that makes all the difference,” Minkkinen said. “And once you start to see that difference in your work from the work you so admire—that’s why you chose that platform after all—it’s time to look for your breakthrough. Suddenly your work starts to get noticed. Now you are working more on your own, making more of the difference between your work and what influenced it. Your vision takes off. And as the years mount up and your work begins to pile up, it won’t be long before the critics become very intrigued, not just by what separates your work from a Sally Mann or a Ralph Gibson, but by what you did when you first got started!”
“You regain the whole bus route in fact. The vintage prints made twenty years ago are suddenly re-evaluated and, for what it is worth, start selling at a premium. At the end of the line—where the bus comes to rest and the driver can get out for a smoke or, better yet, a cup of coffee—that’s when the work is done. It could be the end of your career as an artist or the end of your life for that matter, but your total output is now all there before you, the early (so-called) imitations, the breakthroughs, the peaks and valleys, the closing masterpieces, all with the stamp of your unique vision.”
“Why? Because you stayed on the bus.”
[Image: stay-on-the-bus.jpg]
Does Consistency Lead to Success?I write frequently about how mastery requires consistency. That includes ideas like putting in your repsimproving your average speed, and falling in love with boredom. These ideas are critical, but The Helsinki Bus Station Theory helps to clarify and distinguish some important details that often get overlooked.
Does consistency lead to success?

  • Consider a college student. They have likely spent more than 10,000 hours in a classroom by this point in their life. Are they an expert at learning every piece of information thrown at them? Not at all. Most of what we hear in class is forgotten shortly thereafter.
  • Consider someone who works on a computer each day at work. If you’ve been in your job for years, it is very likely that you have spent more than 10,000 hours writing and responding to emails. Given all of this writing, do you have the skills to write the next great novel? Probably not.
  • Consider the average person who goes to the gym each week. Many folks have been doing this for years or even decades. Are they built like elite athletes? Do they possess elite level strength? Unlikely.
The key feature of The Helsinki Bus Station Theory is that it urges you to not simply do more work, but to do more re-work.
It’s Not the Work, It’s the Re-WorkAverage college students learn ideas once. The best college students re-learn ideas over and over. Average employees write emails once. Elite novelists re-write chapters again and again. Average fitness enthusiasts mindlessly follow the same workout routine each week. The best athletes actively critique each repetition and constantly improve their technique. It is the revision that matters most.
To continue the bus metaphor, the photographers who get off the bus after a few stops and then hop on a new bus line are still doing work the whole time. They are putting in their 10,000 hours. What they are not doing, however, is re-work. They are so busy jumping from line to line in the hopes of finding a route nobody has ridden before that they don’t invest the time to re-work their old ideas. And this, as The Helsinki Bus Station Theory makes clear, is the key to producing something unique and wonderful.
By staying on the bus, you give yourself time to re-work and revise until you produce something unique, inspiring, and great. It’s only by staying on board that mastery reveals itself. Show up enough times to get the average ideas out of the way and every now and then genius will reveal itself.
Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers popularized The 10,000 Hour Rule, which states that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert in a particular field. I think what we often miss is that deliberate practice is revision. If you’re not paying close enough attention to revise, then you’re not being deliberate.
A lot of people put in 10,000 hours. Very few people put in 10,000 hours of revision. The only way to do that is to stay on the bus.
Which Bus Will You Ride?We are all creators in some capacity. The manager who fights for a new initiative. The accountant who creates a faster process for managing tax returns. The nurse who thinks up a better way of managing her patients. And, of course, the writer, the designer, the painter, and the musician laboring to share their work out to the world. They are all creators.
Any creator who tries to move society forward will experience failure. Too often, we respond to these failures by calling a cab and getting on another bus line. Maybe the ride will be smoother over there.
Instead, we should stay on the bus and commit to the hard work of revisiting, rethinking, and revising our ideas.
In order to do that, however, you must answer the toughest decision of all. Which bus will you ride? What story do you want to tell with your life? What craft do you want to spend your years revising and improving?
How do you know the right answer? You don’t. Nobody knows the best bus, but if you want to fulfill your potential you must choose one. This is one of the central tensions of life. It’s your choice, but you must choose.
And once you do, stay on the bus.

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  For a More Creative Brain Follow These 5 Steps
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Posted by: 01dragonslayer - 3 hours ago - No Replies

Nearly all great ideas follow a similar creative process and this article explains how this process works. Understanding this is important because creative thinking is one of the most useful skills you can possess. Nearly every problem you face in work and in life can benefit from innovative solutions, lateral thinking, and creative ideas.
Anyone can learn to be creative by using these five steps. That’s not to say being creative is easy. Uncovering your creative genius requires courage and tons of practice. However, this five-step approach should help demystify the creative process and illuminate the path to more innovative thinking.
To explain how this process works, let me tell you a short story.
A Problem in Need of a Creative SolutionIn the 1870s, newspapers and printers faced a very specific and very costly problem. Photography was a new and exciting medium at the time. Readers wanted to see more pictures, but nobody could figure out how to print images quickly and cheaply.
For example, if a newspaper wanted to print an image in the 1870s, they had to commission an engraver to etch a copy of the photograph onto a steel plate by hand. These plates were used to press the image onto the page, but they often broke after just a few uses. This process of photoengraving, you can imagine, was remarkably time consuming and expensive.
The man who invented a solution to this problem was named Frederic Eugene Ives. He went on to become a trailblazer in the field of photography and held over 70 patents by the end of his career. His story of creativity and innovation, which I will share now, is a useful case study for understanding the 5 key steps of the creative process.
A Flash of InsightIves got his start as a printer’s apprentice in Ithaca, New York. After two years of learning the ins and outs of the printing process, he began managing the photographic laboratory at nearby Cornell University. He spent the rest of the decade experimenting with new photography techniques and learning about cameras, printers, and optics.
In 1881, Ives had a flash of insight regarding a better printing technique.
“While operating my photostereotype process in Ithaca, I studied the problem of halftone process,” Ives said. “I went to bed one night in a state of brain fog over the problem, and the instant I woke in the morning saw before me, apparently projected on the ceiling, the completely worked out process and equipment in operation.”
Ives quickly translated his vision into reality and patented his printing approach in 1881. He spent the remainder of the decade improving upon it. By 1885, he had developed a simplified process that delivered even better results. The Ives Process, as it came to be known, reduced the cost of printing images by 15x and remained the standard printing technique for the next 80 years.
Alright, now let’s discuss what lessons we can learn from Ives about the creative process.
[Image: halftone-printing-process.jpg]The printing process developed by Frederic Eugene Ives used a method called “halftone printing” to break a photograph down into a series of tiny dots. The image looks like a collection of dots up close, but when viewed from a normal distance the dots blend together to create a picture with varying shades of gray. (Source: Unknown.)The 5 Stages of the Creative ProcessIn 1940, an advertising executive named James Webb Young published a short guide titled, A Technique for Producing Ideas. In this guide, he made a simple, but profound statement about generating creative ideas.
According to Young, innovative ideas happen when you develop new combinations of old elements. In other words, creative thinking is not about generating something new from a blank slate, but rather about taking what is already present and combining those bits and pieces in a way that has not been done previously.
Most important, the ability to generate new combinations hinges upon your ability to see the relationships between concepts. If you can form a new link between two old ideas, you have done something creative.
Young believed this process of creative connection always occurred in five steps.

  1. Gather new material. At first, you learn. During this stage you focus on 1) learning specific material directly related to your task and 2) learning general material by becoming fascinated with a wide range of concepts.
  2. Thoroughly work over the materials in your mind. During this stage, you examine what you have learned by looking at the facts from different angles and experimenting with fitting various ideas together.
  3. Step away from the problem. Next, you put the problem completely out of your mind and go do something else that excites you and energizes you.
  4. Let your idea return to you. At some point, but only after you have stopped thinking about it, your idea will come back to you with a flash of insight and renewed energy.
  5. Shape and develop your idea based on feedback. For any idea to succeed, you must release it out into the world, submit it to criticism, and adapt it as needed.
[Image: five-step-creative-process.jpg]
The Idea in PracticeThe creative process used by Frederic Eugene Ives offers a perfect example of these five steps in action.
First, Ives gathered new material. He spent two years working as a printer’s apprentice and then four years running the photographic laboratory at Cornell University. These experiences gave him a lot of material to draw upon and make associations between photography and printing.
Second, Ives began to mentally work over everything he learned. By 1878, Ives was spending nearly all of his time experimenting with new techniques. He was constantly tinkering and experimenting with different ways of putting ideas together.
Third, Ives stepped away from the problem. In this case, he went to sleep for a few hours before his flash of insight. Letting creative challenges sit for longer periods of time can work as well. Regardless of how long you step away, you need to do something that interests you and takes your mind off of the problem.
Fourth, his idea returned to him. Ives awoke with the solution to his problem laid out before him. (On a personal note, I often find creative ideas hit me just as I am lying down for sleep. Once I give my brain permission to stop working for the day, the solution appears easily.)
Finally, Ives continued to revise his idea for years. In fact, he improved so many aspects of the process he filed a second patent. This is a critical point and is often overlooked. It can be easy to fall in love with the initial version of your idea, but great ideas always evolve.
The Creative Process in Short
Quote:“An idea is a feat of association, and the height of it is a good metaphor.”
—Robert Frost
The creative process is the act of making new connections between old ideas. Thus, we can say creative thinking is the task of recognizing relationships between concepts.
One way to approach creative challenges is by following the five-step process of 1) gathering material, 2) intensely working over the material in your mind, 3) stepping away from the problem, 4) allowing the idea to come back to you naturally, and 5) testing your idea in the real world and adjusting it based on feedback.
Being creative isn’t about being the first (or only) person to think of an idea. More often, creativity is about connecting ideas.

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  The Difference Between Being “Not Wrong” and Being Right
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Posted by: 01dragonslayer - 4 hours ago - No Replies

Most people are good at not failing.
They’re good at trying new things (when there is very little downside). They’re good at pushing themselves (when no one will see them fail). They’re good at taking a stand (when a thousand other people have already done so).
And to be fair, I’m just as guilty of these things as anyone else.
But a problem arises when it becomes more important to “not fail” in your daily life than it is to succeed. Every time you choose to avoid failure, you train yourself to not take risks. You train yourself to pass on potential opportunity in favor of playing it safe. You train yourself to use the fear of failure as a driver for decision–making.
If your tendency in any situation is to “not fail,” then you’ll find it hard to ever truly win because you’re teaching yourself that it’s better to make an easy choice that’s “not wrong” than a hard choice that’s right.
Learning to Walk AgainTo get a better idea of what I mean, read this beautiful quote from Richard Saul Wurman…
When I was a child, I once saw someone in a wheelchair. My mother told me that the person in the wheelchair had been in an accident and would recover, but would need to learn to walk again. That was a revelation to me because it seemed that once we’d learned to walk, that we’d always know how to walk.
The notion of learning to walk has lingered in my mind, and I’ve contemplated the process of teaching someone to walk again. I realized that this process has a lot to do with thrusting a leg out into the terror of losing your balance, then regaining your equilibrium, moving you forward, then repeating with your other leg. Failure as loss of balance, the success of equilibrium, and you move forward. Terror of falling, confidence, regaining your balance — it’s a fascinating metaphor for life. Risk is half of the process of moving forward. The risk of failing is inherent in achieving a goal.
There is nothing “wrong” with staying in the wheelchair. In fact, staying in the wheelchair is a great way to “not fail.”
But maintaining the status quo and holding onto normal isn’t the same thing as succeeding.
Now, I’m not advocating failure as if it’s something you should be searching for and accepting. I’m simply saying that it’s not something to fear. If you want to get up and walk, you have to be willing to fall down.
We all have dreams and goals, but they can’t become a reality without vulnerability and uncertainty and discomfort. Learning to walk again is hard. So is getting in shape, eating healthy, building a business, writing a book, starting a tough conversation, getting a better job, and holding yourself to a higher standard.
The Privilege of Being WrongWhen you are truly living on the edge, walking on the moon, perhaps, or caught in the grip of extreme poverty — there’s no room at all for error. It’s a luxury you can’t afford.
For the rest of us, though, there’s a cushion. Being wrong isn’t fatal, it’s merely something we’d prefer to avoid. We have the privilege of being wrong. Not being wrong on purpose, of course, but wrong as a cost on the way to being right.
— Seth Godin
You can spend your whole life developing the skill of not failing and making decisions that are not wrong. It’s easier and it’s safer. But, how long will you put off what you’re capable of doing just to maintain what you’re currently doing?
The alternative is that you can challenge yourself by doing the things that most people make excuses to avoid. You can thrust your leg forward and battle to regain your balance. Sure, you’ll fall down along the way, but it’s the risk of falling down that makes the achievement worthwhile.
The only real failure is not taking any action in the first place.

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  You Get 25,000 Mornings as an Adult: Here are 8 Ways to Not Waste Them
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Posted by: 01dragonslayer - 4 hours ago - No Replies

You’ll wake up for about 25,000 mornings in your adult life, give or take a few.
According to a report from the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy in the United States is 79 years old. Most people in wealthy nations are hovering around the 80–year mark. Women in Japan are the highest, with an average life expectancy of 86 years.
If we use these average life expectancy numbers and assume that your adult life starts at 18 years old, then you’ve got about 68 years as an adult. (86 – 18 = 68) Perhaps a little less on average. A little more if you’re lucky.
(68 years as an adult) x (365 days each year) = 24,820 days.
25,000 mornings.
That’s what you get in your adult life. 25,000 times you get to open your eyes, face the day, and decide what to do next. I don’t know about you, but I’ve let a lot of those mornings slip by.
Once I realized this, I started thinking about how I could develop a better morning routine. I still have a lot to learn, but here are some strategies that you can use to get the most out of your 25,000 mornings.
8 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Morning RoutineHere are the strategies that I’ve found to be most effective for getting the most out of my morning ritual.
1. Manage your energy, not your time. If you take a moment to think about it, you’ll probably realize that you are better at doing certain tasks at certain times. For example, my creative energy is highest in the morning, so that’s when I do my writing each day.
By comparison, I block out my afternoons for interviews, phone calls, and emails. I don’t need my creative energy to be high for those tasks, so that’s the best time for me to get them done. And I tend to have my best workouts in the late afternoon or early evening, so that’s when I head to the gym.
What type of energy do you have in the morning? What task is that energy best suited for?
2. Prepare the night before. I don’t do this nearly as often as I should, but if you only do one thing each day then spend a few minutes each night organizing your to–do list for tomorrow. When I do it right, I’ll outline the article I’m going to write the next day and develop a short list of the most important items for me to accomplish. It takes 10 minutes that night and saves 3 hours the next day.
3. Don’t open email until noon. Sounds simple. Nobody does it. It took me awhile to get over the urge to open my inbox, but eventually I realized that everything can wait a few hours. Nobody is going to email you about a true emergency (a death in the family, etc.), so leave your email alone for the first few hours of each day. Use the morning to do what’s important rather than responding to what is “urgent.”
4. Turn your phone off and leave it in another room. Or on your colleagues desk. Or at the very least, put it somewhere that is out of sight. This eliminates the urge to check text messages, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. This simple strategy eliminates the likelihood of slipping into half-work where you waste time dividing your attention among meaningless tasks.
5. Work in a cool place. Have you ever noticed how you feel groggy and sluggish in a hot room? Turning the temperature down or moving to a cooler place is an easy way to focus your mind and body. (Hat tip to Michael Hyatt for this one.)
6. Sit up or stand up. Your mind needs oxygen to work properly. Your lungs need to be able to expand and contract to fill your body with oxygen. That sounds simple enough, but here’s the problem: most people sit hunched over while staring at a screen and typing.
When you sit hunched over, your chest is in a collapsed position and your diaphragm is pressing against the bottom of your lungs, which hinders your ability to breathe easily and deeply. Sit up straight or stand up and you’ll find that you can breathe easier and more fully. As a result, your brain will get more oxygen and you’ll be able to concentrate better.
(Small tip: When sitting, I usually place a pillow in the small of my back. This prevents my lower back from rounding, which keeps me more upright.)
7. Eat as a reward for working hard. I practice intermittent fasting, which means that I eat my first meal around noon each day. I’ve been doing this for almost two years. There are plenty of health benefits, which I explained in great detail herehere, and here.
But health is just one piece of the puzzle. I also fast because it allows me to get more out of my day. Take a moment to think about how much time people spend each day thinking, planning, and consuming food. By adopting intermittent fasting, I don’t waste an hour each morning figuring out what to eat for breakfast, cooking it, and cleaning up. Instead, I use my morning to work on things that are important to me. Then, I eat good food and big meals as a reward for working hard.
8. Develop a “pre–game routine” to start your day. My morning routine starts by pouring a cold glass of water. Some people kick off their day with ten minutes of meditation. Similarly, you should have a sequence that starts your morning ritual. This tiny routine signals to your brain that it’s time to get into work mode or exercise mode or whatever mode you need to be in to accomplish your task. Additionally, a pre-game routine helps you overcome a lack of motivation and get things done even when you don’t feel like it.
For more details about why this works, read this: How to Get Motivated.
25,000 Mornings: The Power of a Morning RoutineJust as it’s rare for anyone to experience overnight success, it’s also rare for our lives crumble to pieces in an instant. Most unproductive or unhealthy behaviors are the result of slow, gradual choices that add up to bad habits. A wasted morning here. An unproductive morning there.
The good news is that exceptional results are also the result of consistent daily choices. Nowhere is this more true than with your morning routine. The way you start your day is often the way that you finish it.
Take, for example, Jack LaLanne. He woke up each day at 4am and spent the first 90 minutes lifting weights. Then, he went for a swim or a run for the next 30 minutes. For more than 60 years, he spent each morning doing this routine. In addition to being one of the most influential people in fitness in the last 100 years, LaLanne also lived to the ripe old age of 96.
This is no coincidence. What you do each morning is an indicator of how you approach your entire day. It’s the choices that we repeatedly make that determine the life we live, the health we enjoy, and the work we create.
You’ve got 25,000 mornings. What will you do with each one?

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  Random Ideas About Life
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Posted by: 01dragonslayer - 4 hours ago - No Replies

In the grand scheme of things, I have little to nothing figured out.
But just in case I’ve stumbled on something that could help you, here are a few ideas about living well, doing good, and making life better.
If you want to change your life, then change your identity.All behavior is belief driven.
—Jim Kwik
The type of person that you believe that you are and the type of things that you believe you are capable of — in other words, your identity — is what determines the actions you perform.
The limitations in your life are framed by the box of your mind. If you want a new life, then start building a new identity.
Start small. Prove your new identity to yourself in a thousand tiny ways. Soon it will become real in a thousand big ways.
Further Reading: Identity-Based Habits: How to Actually Stick to Your Goals
It’s your responsibility to pick the direction for your life.A lot of smart people waste years thinking, “If I just work hard, then things will work out for me.”
Maybe. Maybe not.
It’s your job to decide the direction for your life. The world is filled with good people who want good things for you, but they are busy with their own lives. It’s not their job to find opportunities for you. They won’t help you unless you can tap them on the shoulder and say, “I’d like to get here. Do you know how?”
Purpose is everything. If you know where you want to go in life, then people will either help you get there or get out of the way. Both of those are useful.
Further Reading: The #1 Regret From the Lives of Dying Hospital Patients (And How to Avoid It)
Focus on average speed, not maximum speed.Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.
—Chuck Close
Most people only work hard every now and then. You can blow past them simply by showing up every day. While everyone else is waiting to get inspired and motivated, you get to work. It doesn’t take a monumental effort to achieve incredible results, just a consistent one.
Professionals set a schedule for their work. Amateurs work when it’s convenient.
Further Reading: What is Your “Average Speed?” and The Difference Between Professionals and Amateurs
Give yourself permission.You don’t need permission to make yourself better. The typical standard doesn’t have to be your standard.
You don’t need permission to love someone or something. If you love them, you love them. If you love it, you love it.
You don’t need permission to create something you’re excited about, to quit your job and travel the world, to pursue a dream, to give up on a dream, or to do just about anything.
If you want to do it, do it. You don’t need to be tapped, appointed, chosen, or nominated to live a good life. You don’t need to be selected for greatness, just start living it.
Start before you feel ready.If you have a goal, the most important thing is to start. Do not wait for motivation. If it’s not there, it will come after starting.
Most of us begin at the same place: no money, no resources, no contacts, no experience. The difference is that some people — the winners — choose to start anyway.
Having the courage to start is more important than succeeding because the people who consistently get started are the only ones who can end up finishing anything. If you can’t find anyone to support you, be bold and start anyway. You’ll find supporters along the way.
Further Reading: Successful People Start Before They Feel Ready
Push yourself physically.We live in a physical world and we’re meant to live a physical life.
Challenging your own body is the greatest method for discovering the strength of your mind. Nowhere is this more true than with strength training. There will be days when you don’t feel like coming into the gym. There will be sets that you don’t feel like finishing. There will be times when everyone else in the gym will see you fail.
And if you keep showing up anyway, then you’ll develop the mental fortitude to get past failure, work when you don’t feel like it, and discover what you’re really made of mentally and physically. Too many people are soft mentally because they’re soft physically.
Further Reading: Why Everybody Should Lift Weights
Create something rather than consuming something.When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.
—Eleanor Roosevelt
Too often we spend our lives visiting the world instead of shaping it. It is through the act of creating new experiences that we discover who we are and what is important to us.
Cook a meal instead of buying one. Play a game instead of watching one. Write a paragraph instead of reading one. Don’t just consume, create.
Further Reading: The Easy Way to Live a Short, Unimportant Life
Live authentically.You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.
—Winston Churchill
You have no responsibility to live up to someone else’s expectation of you. Don’t waste your life chasing what someone else says you should want instead of doing what’s right for you.
Take a stand for something you believe in. Sometimes you need to look society in the eye and tell the world to stuff it. Never compromise your values or your dreams. It’s not the easy decision, but it’s the right decision.
Give away your ideas. Take no credit. Share your victories.Team accomplishment is far greater than individual achievement. To make your work matter, share it with someone. Giving is the greatest joy.
There’s no sense in pointing fingers, making claims, or demanding recognition. Pretty much every idea you’ve ever had isn’t yours — it’s the result of something you read, something you were taught, or something that happened to you.
Embrace the learning experience that is life and share the knowledge you stumble across freely. Ideas that are hoarded help no one. Success follows generosity.

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  How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skills, Boosts Your Health, and Improves Your Work
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Posted by: 01dragonslayer - 4 hours ago - No Replies

Positive thinking sounds useful on the surface. (Most of us would prefer to be positive rather than negative.) But, “positive thinking” is also a soft and fluffy term that is easy to dismiss. In the real world, it rarely carries the same weight as words like “work ethic” or “persistence.”
But those views may be changing.
Research is beginning to reveal that positive thinking is about much more than just being happy or displaying an upbeat attitude. Positive thoughts can actually create real value in your life and help you build skills that last much longer than a smile.
The impact of positive thinking on your work, your health, and your life is being studied by people who are much smarter than me. One of these people is Barbara Fredrickson.
Fredrickson is a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina and she published a landmark paper that provides surprising insights about positive thinking and its impact on your skills. Her work is among the most referenced and cited in her field and it is surprisingly useful in everyday life.
Let’s talk about Fredrickson’s discovery and what it means for you…
What Negative Thoughts Do to Your BrainPlay along with me for a moment.
Let’s say that you’re walking through the forest and suddenly a tiger steps onto the path ahead of you. When this happens, your brain registers a negative emotion — in this case, fear.
Researchers have long known that negative emotions program your brain to do a specific action. When that tiger crosses your path, for example, you run. The rest of the world doesn’t matter. You are focused entirely on the tiger, the fear it creates, and how you can get away from it.
In other words, negative emotions narrow your mind and focus your thoughts. At that same moment, you might have the option to climb a tree, pick up a leaf, or grab a stick — but your brain ignores all of those options because they seem irrelevant when a tiger is standing in front of you.
This is a useful instinct if you’re trying to save life and limb, but in our modern society we don’t have to worry about stumbling across tigers in the wilderness. The problem is that your brain is still programmed to respond to negative emotions in the same way — by shutting off the outside world and limiting the options you see around you.
For example, when you’re in a fight with someone, your anger and emotion might consume you to the point where you can’t think about anything else. Or, when you are stressed out about everything you have to get done today, you may find it hard to actually start anything because you’re paralyzed by how long your to–do list has become. Or, if you feel bad about not exercising or not eating healthy, all you think about is how little willpower you have, how you’re lazy, and how you don’t have any motivation.
In each case, your brain closes off from the outside world and focuses on the negative emotions of fear, anger, and stress — just like it did with the tiger. Negative emotions prevent your brain from seeing the other options and choices that surround you. It’s your survival instinct.
Now, let’s compare this to what positive emotions do to your brain. This is where Barbara Fredrickson returns to the story.
What Positive Thoughts Do to Your BrainFredrickson tested the impact of positive emotions on the brain by setting up a little experiment. During this experiment, she divided her research subjects into 5 groups and showed each group different film clips.
The first two groups were shown clips that created positive emotions. Group 1 saw images that created feelings of joy. Group 2 saw images that created feelings of contentment.
Group 3 was the control group. They saw images that were neutral and produced no significant emotion.
The last two groups were shown clips that created negative emotions. Group 4 saw images that created feelings of fear. Group 5 saw images that created feelings of anger.
Afterward, each participant was asked to imagine themselves in a situation where similar feelings would arise and to write down what they would do. Each participant was handed a piece of paper with 20 blank lines that started with the phrase, “I would like to…”
Participants who saw images of fear and anger wrote down the fewest responses. Meanwhile, the participants who saw images of joy and contentment, wrote down a significantly higher number of actions that they would take, even when compared to the neutral group.
In other words, when you are experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, you will see more possibilities in your life. These findings were among the first that proved that positive emotions broaden your sense of possibility and open your mind up to more options.
But that was just the beginning. The really interesting impact of positive thinking happens later…
How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skill SetThe benefits of positive thoughts don’t stop after a few minutes of good feelings subside. In fact, the biggest benefit that positive thoughts provide is an enhanced ability to build skills and develop resources for use later in life.
Let’s consider a real-world example.
A child who runs around outside, swinging on branches and playing with friends, develops the ability to move athletically (physical skills), the ability to play with others and communicate with a team (social skills), and the ability to explore and examine the world around them (creative skills). In this way, the positive emotions of play and joy prompt the child to build skills that are useful and valuable in everyday life.
These skills last much longer than the emotions that initiated them. Years later, that foundation of athletic movement might develop into a scholarship as a college athlete or the communication skills may blossom into a job offer as a business manager. The happiness that promoted the exploration and creation of new skills has long since ended, but the skills themselves live on.
Fredrickson refers to this as the “broaden and build” theory because positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind, which in turn allows you to build new skills and resources that can provide value in other areas of your life.
As we discussed earlier, negative emotions do the opposite. Why? Because building skills for future use is irrelevant when there is immediate threat or danger (like the tiger on the path).
All of this research begs the most important question of all: if positive thinking is so useful for developing valuable skills and appreciating the Big Picture of life, how do you actually get yourself to be positive?
How to Increase Positive Thinking in Your LifeWhat can you do to increase positive thoughts and take advantage of the “broaden and build” theory in your life?
Well, anything that sparks feelings of joy, contentment, and love will do the trick. You probably know what things work well for you. Maybe it’s playing the guitar. Maybe it’s spending time with a certain person. Maybe it’s carving tiny wooden lawn gnomes.
That said, here are three ideas for you to consider…
1. Meditation — Recent research by Fredrickson and her colleagues has revealed that people who meditate daily display more positive emotions than those who do not. As expected, people who meditated also built valuable long–term skills. For example, three months after the experiment was over, the people who meditated daily continued to display increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms.
Note: If you’re looking for an easy way to start meditation, here is a 10–minute guided meditation that was recently sent to me. Just close your eyes, breathe, and follow along.
2. Writing — this study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, examined a group of 90 undergraduate students who were split into two groups. The first group wrote about an intensely positive experience each day for three consecutive days. The second group wrote about a control topic.
Three months later, the students who wrote about positive experiences had better mood levels, fewer visits to the health center, and experienced fewer illnesses. (This blew me away. Better health after just three days of writing about positive things!)
Note: I used to be very erratic with my writing, but now I publish a new article every Monday and Thursday. I’ve written about my writing process and how you can stick to any goal in a more consistent manner in the articles herehere and here.
3. Play — schedule time to play into your life. We schedule meetings, conference calls, weekly events, and other responsibilities into our daily calendars … why not schedule time to play?
When was the last time you blocked out an hour on your calendar just to explore and experiment? When was the last time you intentionally carved out time to have fun? You can’t tell me that being happy is less important than your Wednesday meeting, and yet, we act like it is because we never give it a time and space to live on our calendars.
Give yourself permission to smile and enjoy the benefits of positive emotion. Schedule time for play and adventure so that you can experience contentment and joy, and explore and build new skills.
Note: for more ideas on the importance of play, read this article on how one man cured his anxiety.
Happiness vs. Success (Which Comes First?)There’s no doubt that happiness is the result of achievement. Winning a championship, landing a better job, finding someone you love — these things will bring joy and contentment to your life. But so often, we wrongly assume that this means happiness always follows success.
How often have you thought, “If I just get ___, then I’ll be set.”
Or, “Once I achieve ___, I’ll be satisfied.”
I know I’m guilty of putting off happiness until I achieve some arbitrary goal. But as Fredrickson’s “broaden and build” theory proves, happiness is essential to building the skills that allow for success.
In other words, happiness is both the precursor to success and the result of it.
In fact, researchers have often noticed a compounding effect or an “upward spiral” that occurs with happy people. They are happy, so they develop new skills, those skills lead to new success, which results in more happiness, and the process repeats itself.
Where to Go From HerePositive thinking isn’t just a soft and fluffy feel–good term. Yes, it’s great to simply “be happy,” but those moments of happiness are also critical for opening your mind to explore and build the skills that become so valuable in other areas of your life.
Finding ways to build happiness and positive emotions into your life — whether it is through meditation, writing, playing a pickup basketball game, or anything else — provides more than just a momentary decrease in stress and a few smiles.
Periods of positive emotion and unhindered exploration are when you see the possibilities for how your past experiences fit into your future life, when you begin to develop skills that blossom into useful talents later on, and when you spark the urge for further exploration and adventure.
To put it simply: seek joy, play often, and pursue adventure. Your brain will do the rest.

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  10 Ways Your Brain Fucks With Your Fitness Goals
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Posted by: 01dragonslayer - 09-21-2023, 10:56 AM - No Replies

Remember that scene in The Matrix where Neo’s having Kung Fu training uploaded directly into his brain and at the end he’s all like, “I know Kung-fu”?
Well, I hate to break it to you, but he was wrong. He didn’t actually know kung-fu. He only thought he knew kung-fu: Meaning, he understood kung fu mechanistically, on a cognitive level he knew how to punch and kick.
But, If he tried performing these moves in the real world, like, you know, actually kicking someone in the face, he’d probably end up tearing a muscle or breaking a bone because his physical body hadn’t gone through the vigorous fitness training and conditioning that accompanies learning martial arts.
But, Aadam, what the hell does this have to do with my fitness goals? Look, if you stop interrupting, I’ll explain. Can you do that?
As I was saying: Just like Neo thought he knew Kung-fu (which we’ve established he kinda didn’t) there are things in the world you think you know that you don’t actually know but are convinced that you do (but you don’t).
And this conflict between what you think you know, but don’t actually know, and what’s actually true, can lead you to make bad decisions. This error in thinking is known as a cognitive trap.
A cognitive trap is when we make an error in our thinking. Like how you totally believed Neo when he told you he knew Kung Fu, then I came and blew your mind and now you’re probably upset. Yeah, uh, sorry about that. Here, have a cookie.
The fitness space is one big ol’ orgy of cognitive traps that causes you to make bad judgements, believe some really wacky bullshit, and do things that may hinder your progress. Here are 10 ways your brain fucks with your fitness goals.1. The Athlete Body Delusion​The Athlete Body Delusion happens when we confuse a genetic disposition with results – put another way, we assume the ‘athlete’ (you can replace athlete with cover model, movie actor, Instagram influencer, etc.) look the way they do because of the training programme they used rather than in spite of it.
Nicholas Nassim Taleb provided an example of this cognitive trap in his book, ‘Black Swan’, when he falsely believed that to look like a swimmer, he should start swimming. Only to come to the sad realisation that world champion swimmers are world champion swimmers because of their genetic disposition for the sport––world champion swimmers tend to have long arms and broad shoulders, which they then refine and improve on with training.
To illustrate this trap, imagine we have a group of kids, and they all want to become professional athletes in a particular sport.
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As they progress and the level of competitiveness increases, the kids whose selection factors (genetic traits) are best suited for this sport will progress. In contrast, the kids who don’t have favourable selection factors will be rejected or become disheartened and give up.

This process keeps repeating until you see the best-suited athlete on TV.

Now the athlete body delusion kicks in and you assume that you have to do what that athlete is doing to get a body like his.
This leads to the second problem: what exactly is The Athlete Body, and how are we defining this ‘look’?
Look at the image below showing three different athletes from three different sports, all exhibiting three very distinct looking physiques.

If I asked you whose physique you most want, I’m confident the majority would choose Ronaldo because Ronaldo’s physique is what people associate with the athletic body: a good amount of muscle mass with low body fat.
But, as you can see from the image, athletes come in all shapes and sizes. Athletes aren’t training for a look; they’re training for performance. And regardless of what your local “functional trainer” told you, the two goals are mutually exclusive.
Second, Ronaldo would look like that regardless of the way he trains. Case in point, look at the hundreds of other football players who train similarly but don’t look how Ronaldo does. (To clarify, I’m referring to sport specificity, as opposed to work ethic.)
The ‘athletes’ you see gracing fitness magazines, fashion ads, and marketing material are all guys (and girls) who already exhibit ‘the look’. They’re selected exactly because their physique is ‘marketable’.
And it sells. Putting Cristiano on the front of your fitness magazine and labelling it with “Do the Ronaldo Ab workout for abs like his” sells magazine copies.
The same thing occurs with fitness models and your favourite Instagram celebrities––they’re selected because of the way they look (or the number of followers they have), not because they did a certain training programme, ate a certain way, or took a certain supplement.
Solution: We know how muscles grow. Lifting weights and getting stronger over time. If you want to look like an athlete, stop training like an athlete and focus on building muscle and reducing body fat.2. The Jacked Bro Fallacy​Remember in Terminator 2 when John’s running away from the cop (who’s really the terminator sent to kill him) and he runs into Arnold and is all like HOLY FUCKING SHIT THIS GUY HAS A SHOTGUN.
(wait for it).
And then he runs away from Arnold and into the cop, who’s really the terminator trying to kill him, and Arnold’s all like “get down” and shoots the cop?
Yeah? Good, because that whole part where John thinks Arnold is going to shoot him and freaks out is called the representativeness heuristic.
[b]The representativeness heuristic is a mental shortcut we use to judge and/or make predictions about things based on our preconceived notions of that thing.[/b]
Put another way: we expect X [x could be anything] to look like the X framework or prototype we have in our minds.
Example: Big scary dude pointing a shotgun at me: bad. Cop who’s probably going to arrest me for all the ATMs I’ve hacked, but I get to stay alive: not as bad.
This same mental error occurs when we see someone with a good physique and automatically assume the person knows what they’re talking about (regardless of the credibility of the information they relay) based solely on the representation of their physique.
‘C’mon. Of course, he knows what he’s talking about – look at him, he’s Jacked! How would he be jacked if he didn’t know what he was doing, huh? Explain that smart guy’.
We assume his jackedness was a direct result of him knowing about training and nutrition rather than in spite of it.
The representativeness heuristic causes us to look at the two most salient variables (physique + knowledge) and ignore all the other factors that could have played an even larger role, like genetics and drugs.
While representativeness heuristics can be useful, I mean, if you ran into a lion on your way to work, you’re not going to stop and wonder what the fuck a lion is doing out in the city, you’d get away as fast as you could.
But, if you’re not paying attention, it can cause poor judgements that could lead to taking on bad advice.
Solution: Separate the physique from the adviceListen to what they say and ask questions. Why do they say that? If it sounds odd, do your own research and ask other credible authorities you trust and then come to a decision.3. The DYEL Bias​Just like we assume that someone with a good physique knows what they’re doing, we also dismiss someone with a not-so-good physique as not knowing what they’re doing, even if they do. This is why you’re more likely to listen to someone who “looks like they lift” over someone who doesn’t.
This is the DYEL (do you even lift) bias. And as I’m about to explain below, it can lead to bad judgements if you’re not aware.
Suppose we have two people: Person A and Person B. Person A is ‘genetically gifted’; one look at the weights and he grows muscle. Person B is less fortunate and has average genetics.
Person A starts reading fitness magazines in pursuit of knowledge. After a month or two, he starts seeing great results. He automatically associates his awesome results with the workout in the fitness magazine*. In turn, he keeps reading that line of information and trains accordingly.
As time goes on, he keeps getting great results and preaches these ideas to other people.
The fact he’s getting results doesn’t give him a reason to explore or find new ways to do things: ‘I don’t need to do more research because clearly what I’m doing is working.’
Other people see his results and start asking him for advice. He dishes out the advice he read in the fitness magazine’s because, unbeknownst to him, his results weren’t because of the programme, but his genetics.
Meanwhile, Person B also starts his lifting career by reading the same magazine. He follows the advice to a T and doesn’t get the results he was after, unlike gifted Person A.
So, he starts seeking out more information. Eventually, over the years, due to his lacking genetics, he’s been forced to seek out more information, ask more questions, read, study, and experiment to find what works and what doesn’t.
This is a big reason why many of the guys in the fitness industry who are doing a lot of the research tend not to look as impressive as some of the fitness models you see on magazine covers. Their curiosity and the need for answers to improve their physique led them to delve into the research, to learn and explore because every little thing made a difference.
Solution: The solution to this cognitive trap is the same as the “Jacked Bro fallacy” – separate the physique from the advice and listen to what the person is saying.4. You’re Fooled by Credentials​Remember back to school when the teacher would put up a math problem and ask you to solve it. And there would always be that one kid who would apprehensively raise his hand to let the teacher know she’d made a mistake.
The teacher would look to the kid, then to the board. Pause for a few minutes, and then say, “oh, yes, you’re right. I made a mistake. Well done to you, kid. At least someone’s paying attention.”
That kid is not only a goddamn hero to the educational system but an example of exactly how you should be approaching everything. Just because someone has millions of followers on Social Media or listed their entire curriculum vitae in their Facebook name, doesn’t necessarily mean they know what they’re talking about.
Even Doctors, when asked simple nutrition questions, fail the test. What about research and science, bro? What about the news? Surely they wouldn’t lie to us. Well…
Health researcher, Timothy Caulfield, has a term he calls The Cycle of Hype. This is how the cycle of hype goes:

Quote:Researchers and research institutions feel the need to be seen as producing instantly relevant knowledge and applications for that knowledge. This results in messages (through academic papers, enthusiastic press releases from the university and from research funders, and interviews with the media) that overemphasise benefits and underemphasize the risks and limitations of research.
These messages are picked up by the press and transmitted to the public. The public’s appetite for news about exciting science goes up, and the incentive to hype is increased accordingly.
In the short term everyone in the cycle of hype benefits from the hype, the researchers gain notoriety, the media gets a good story, but, of course, the cycle does not benefit the public.
The media plays an active role in the cycle of hype. The news industry – be it TV, newspapers, or the internet – is enormously competitive. Stories must be sold not only to the public but to editors and producers.
This being the case, the media has a tendency to represent scientific events in extreme terms.

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The majority of what you hear and see on TV is ‘entertainment’, and the rate of new discoveries in health and fitness is despairingly slow compared to the demand for new and interesting stories. This disconnect causes…well, this to happen.
  • Listen to the claim: Regardless if someone has a gazillion followers, a PhD, has been on your favourite talk show, and your friend Becky swears by their plan if they’re making outlandish claims, like, oh I dunno, harvest the sun’s energy to realign your chakra’s, lose fat, cleanse your soul, and cure cancer – they’re probably, most likely, definitely full of shit.
  • Think for yourself: There’s this thing called ‘herd mentality’, and it’s when people don’t listen to the voice in their head telling them something is incorrect or dangerous. Instead, they follow the herd so they’re not ridiculed. This is why Becky is sitting butt-naked on her patio, trying to photosynthesise fat loss: she saw a group of her other friends do the same thing and instead of thinking, “Hey, this is pretty fucking stupid and goes against everything I learned in biology”, decided that because everyone else is doing it, it must be right. The lesson: Don’t be like Becky. Fuck Becky. Think for yourself, and when you hear that voice in your head telling you something doesn’t seem right, listen to it.
  • Questions things: Nobody wants others to think they’re stupid. And so, people avoid asking questions. I can empathise with this. Instead, I would recommend messaging the person in private and asking them to clarify. This is better for two reasons. First, you feel confident asking the person the question, and they can clarify anything if you don’t understand. Second, other people aren’t going to chime in and confuse you further.
5. You Can’t Trust Yourself​You know how at Thanksgiving or Christmas or any other time of the year filled with exuberant frolicking and an ungodly amount of food that you eat until you’re sick, and just as you pass out from the food coma you think: ‘I’m never eating that much food ever again’ only to go raiding the fridge 30 minutes later. What the hell is that about, right?
The hell it’s about is you, like everyone else, suck at imagining yourself in the future.
When we make a prediction about the future, we base how we’re going to feel in the future on how we feel right now, and because we’re making these predictions based on how we’re currently feeling, they’re never really accurate. Actually, they’re most definitely always wrong.
This inability to imagine the future is what psychologists have termed an empathy gap: The inability to empathise with your future self in the moment when you’re driven by your present desires, causing you to choose immediate gratification over your long term goal.
So this happens:

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You’re adamant that this is the year you’re going to start eating well, exercising and lose the extra 20lbs.
And it works, right up until you’re faced with a situation involving tasty food.
Now the delicious food seems so much more appealing than the abs you desperately wanted just mere moments ago.
Solution: Set failsafe’s now. Because you can’t trust yourself to make a rational decision in the heat of the moment, the better you plan while you’re in a state of sanity – the more chances of sticking to it.
If you know you’re going to be at an event or in a situation where you may be likely to overeat, plan for it.6. Abs Aren’t The Solution To All Your Problems​This is you right now.
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When you imagine the future, your brain does this really annoying thing where it takes what you think will happen and supercharges it––why? Your brain’s a dick, that’s why. So, this happens:

You imagine an extremely exaggerated future. Yes, one in which you’re making out with your crush under a rainbow as a unicorn flies over you because fuck logic.
And, this isn’t too bad because this whole imagination on steroids is, in part, what motivates you to start and keeps you going when things suck. But then, you lose fat, get abs, look awesome…and this happens.

As Dan Gilbert explains in Stumbling on Happiness:
Quote:We assume that what we feel as we imagine the future is what we’ll feel when we get there, but in fact, what we feel as we imagine the future is often a response to what’s happening in the present

Solution: Use your fitness goals as a way to self-improvement, not as a way to fill a void or find happiness. By the way, in case you didn’t notice, that’s a quotable right there, so if you want to tweet that to look all philosophical, deep, and cultured: you should.7. Marketing Hype​In the eighties, Coca-Cola was dominating the soft drink market and its rival, Pepsico, was pissed. Pepsico knew it had a superior product, taste-wise, so why the hell didn’t the public see this, too?
To put an end to the matter and finally prove to everyone the superiority of their product, Pepsico decided to run an experiment: a blind taste test titled “The Pepsi Challenge”.
In over 200,00 blind taste tests, 62% of people said they preferred the taste of Pepsi. But when these same people knew what they were drinking, they preferred the taste of Coke.
What the researchers concluded was people didn’t really care about the taste as much as the brand.
Coca-Cola simply had better marketing, and when people saw Pepsi and Coke side by side, they automatically associated Coke to be the superior brand regardless of taste.
So, why am I telling you all this? Because, just like the participants in the blind taste test study, you fall for a similar trap: marketing hype.
This is why when you see your favourite fitness model, with his rippling abs, or her geometrically perfect ass, brandishing a pack of the latest skinny-organic-natural-tea supplement, you rush off to buy, thinking it’s what you need.
This is why you keep putting butter in your coffee in the hopes to lose fat. Or why you spend triple for the expensive sciencey-sounding creatine when a cheaper version works just as well, if not better. Or why you’re adamant you should buy organic, even when it’s no better than conventional. Or, why you buy fat burners, which are no more than sexed-up caffeine pills.
Solution: Pay attention. And if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Because really? Do you honestly believe your favourite celebrity got those peeled abs or toned buns by using some weird muscle contracting vibrator machine?8. Fuck Your Genetics​If you’ve ever been to a circus and are like me, you’ve probably thought the same thing: Woah, it’s an Elephant. And woah, that thing is huge. It must weigh a gazillion tons and be strong as shit: why the hell hasn’t it crushed its captors and escaped?
To answer that, we have to travel back to the 1960s where Martin Seligman and his team were expanding on Pavlov’s research. You know, the guy who would ring a bell, and his dogs would start salivating.
But, instead of trying to make dogs salivate, Seligman decided to restrain them with harnesses and zap them with electricity (yes, Martin was a dick). He would ring a bell and then zap the dogs. He kept doing this until he only needed to ring the bell, and the dogs would react as if they had been zapped, even if they hadn’t.
Once the dogs were conditioned, Seligman put one dog into a large box with a little fence dividing it in half. The dogs could see over the fence and were able to jump over it. One-half of the fence was electrified.

Yes. I got lazy and didn’t want to draw a dog.
They zapped the dog expecting it to jump over the fence to escape. It didn’t. The dog just laid down and braced itself through the ensuing shocks.

The researchers then put a dog who hadn’t been conditioned into the box and zapped it – this dog jumped the fence right away.
The conditioned dogs had learned something called “learned helplessness”. Learned helplessness is when a person or animal (like the Elephant at the circus) experiences repeated bouts of negative or painful stimuli that they cease trying to change their circumstances. Basically, you’re kind of like Seligman’s dogs.
How many time have you blamed your genetics for not being able to lose fat or build muscle? Oh, really? Ok: Do any of these sound familiar?
“Well, I’m just not the sort of person who has abs.
“I’m a hard gainer.”
“I’m just naturally fat.”
“I’m just meant to be skinny.”
“I’m too old for this fitness stuff.”
“I’m not one of those fit people.
These are examples of learned helplessness. Learned helplessness is a result of attributions. Attributions are the conclusions we arrive at about why certain things happened.
There are two different types of attributions – stable and unstable (actually, there are four, but for our purpose, these two are the ones that matter).
A stable attribution is when a person concludes that an event or behaviour is out of their control, and they can’t do anything to change it. An unstable attribution is when a person acknowledges that the event or behaviour was under their control, and they can change it or, at the very least, try to.
When someone blames their genetics for why they can’t build muscle or lose fat, they’ve made a stable attribution. In contrast, if that person acknowledges that the training programme or nutrition plan might have been stupid, they’ve made an unstable attribution.
The person who begins to believe it’s their genetics slowly begins to put in less effort at the gym because what’s the point? No matter how hard they try, it’s all pointless because of their genetics. The less effort they put in, the worse their results, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And the self-fulfilling prophecy starts a downward spiral in which something that was never true ends up becoming true.
And this is what it comes down to: own your shit. The more you keep blaming your genetics for your lack of progress, you’re edging further into learned helplessness. And the more you tell yourself the situation is out of your control, the more you start to believe it, and now, like Seligman’s dogs, you give up.
Solution: Fuck your genetics. Are you going to be the next Arnold? Probably not. Are you going to look like your favourite fitness model? I dunno, you might, you might not, you might even end up looking better than them. And that’s the thing: you’ll never know until you put in the effort and try. You can bitch and moan about how your genetics suck, but that isn’t going to change anything.
Maybe your genetics are awesome, but your training plan is idiotic. Maybe your genetics are great, but you’re all up in your feelings instead of trying to make a change.9. The ‘I Deserved It’ Paradox​Ever gone for a run and then ate a ‘treat’ because you thought you ‘deserved it’? Or how about that time you dieted for a week and then spent the weekend “cheating” because you just dieted for a whole damn week, and you obviously deserve this.
This is what I call The I Deserved It Paradox.
In Psychology, this paradox is called “self-licensing” and occurs when people do something good like exercise, and then negate the good by doing something not so good, like overeating.
Researchers in Taiwan studied this phenomenon and found that when smokers took multivitamins––in their minds a healthy choice––they also believed the vitamins reduced the risk of cancer and so, not only continued to smoke but, smoked twice as much as before.
Solution: The lead researcher from the study above said: “Smokers who take dietary supplements can fool themselves into thinking they are protected against cancer and other diseases. Reminding health-conscious smokers that multivitamins don’t prevent cancer may help them control their smoking or even encourage them to stop.”
So, here’s your reminder. You’re welcome.10. The ‘Secret’ to Your Goals​A few years back a self-help craze took the world by storm; promising health, wealth, happiness, riches, and all the virgins in the Seven Kingdoms.
The craze was a book called ‘The Secret’, you wanna know what the secret is? You sit around thinking of all the things you want, and if you think hard enough, the universe manifests all of your wishes because, apparently, we somehow forgot the universe does that sort of thing. How stupid of us.
This same line of thinking has also manifested itself in the fitness world. Now everyone’s all up on Instagram posting motivational quotes that don’t even mean anything.
The result: you have a bunch of fitness people telling everyone how effortless fat loss will be because all you have to do is stay positive; you’ll never be hungry again because just be positive; tired and grumpy? Well, just click those heels, Dorothy, think happy thoughts and everything will be A-ok.
Well, sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but that stuff doesn’t work because it’s bullshit, and it’s not how real life works (in case you had any doubts). So let’s step out from Wonderland kids and return back to reality.
In his book, Unhooked, Psychologist Frederick Woolverton, whose work deals with addiction, makes an interesting point about how this false positivity can backfire.
Quote:What hurts people most are secrets and lies, and what finally heals is honesty. One has to find a way to live with the truth, not fight against it
…If you know in advance that you are going to be physically and emotionally uncomfortable, there are many ways to prepare yourself to make your suffering more bearable.
He then goes on to tell the story of one patient whom he was helping work through a smoking addiction.
Quote:At her first therapy session with me, I gave Susan my standard warning: “you are going to feel like hell for a year”. During our subsequently weekly sessions, I explained my theory and methods further. She later said that my warning that she was supposed to feel like hell for a year was what helped the most.
It made her feel like her reactions were normal and allowed. Since she knew in advance she was going to experience twelve months of agony, she had time to prepare and change her plans, expectations, and outlook. In essence, she made room in her life for more agony and discomfort. This time stopping did not shock her or take her by surprise.
She knew what to expect and made a specific, detailed plan for how she was going to cope”
Solution: Anti-visualise. Instead of fantasising about achieving your physique goal. Do the opposite.
Visualise not achieving your physique goal. Yes, I’m telling you to imagine failing. Now. Once you’ve got this image in your head, write down all the potential reasons this could have happened.
Written them all down? Awesome. Now you have a list of all the things not to do on your fitness journey.
This is Anti-visualisation. You start with the possibility of failure in mind, and once you’re aware of all the things that could go wrong, you can set up a failsafe now, in advance, increasing your chances of success instead of them cropping up unexpectedly and throwing you off.
WHEW. And we’re done. Now excuse me, I need to have a word with the universe because it still owes me a cheeseburger from 2002.

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  How to Track Your Workouts in the Simplest, Most Effective Way Possible
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Posted by: 01dragonslayer - 09-21-2023, 10:51 AM - No Replies

In my opinion, tracking your workouts (whether it be with a workout journal, a fitness app, or something else) should accomplish three goals…

  1. Your workout tracker should be quick and easy, so that you can spend your time exercising. Your time should be spent doing the work, not recording it.
  2. Your workout tracker should be useful. Our modern world is overflowing with data and most of it is never acted upon. I prefer a system that records the essential information of what I have done (so I can see my progress), that reduces errors while I am working out (so that I can be more effective with my time), and that helps me make informed decisions about what to do during my next workout.
  3. Your workout tracker should be versatile. I don’t want to have to find a new app or develop a new system every time I want to do a different style of workout. I should be able to adapt my current system to any style of training.
With those goals in mind, here’s the workout journal tracking system that has worked best for me.
Hacking the Workout JournalNaturally, I use the Clear Habit Journal. Obviously, any notebook will do, but I like this particular one because it is the perfect size and it has a firm cover that doesn’t bend or tear with repeated use.
STEP 1: Write the date and your bodyweight (if you wish) at the top of the page.
I typically do this once I show up to the gym. It’s part of the pre-game routine that I go through before working out. I put on my lifting shoes and knee sleeves, get out my lifting belt, write the date at the top of the page, and weigh myself.
STEP 2: Write your planned workout routine for the day in the following format:
[Exercise] – [Weight] – [Sets] x [Reps]
At this point, I write out what I expect to do for the day. In the beginning, you may need to think about this a bit or spend some time finding a program that you enjoy. After the first or second time, however, writing down your workout is a very quick task.
Currently, this process takes me less than 60 seconds because I usually measure backward and base the weights I lift today on what I did the week prior by simply adding 5 more pounds or an extra set. (This is another advantage of using the notebook. Your recent workouts are just one or two pages away, so you can pull information instantly.)
I prefer to write out every set I’ll do, including warm-up sets, because it makes the process of working out even more mindless and automatic. Once I have a plan, I can just pick up the weights and go. In the rare case that I don’t know exactly what weight I will hit (for example, if I’m maxing out on a particular day), then I’ll just leave a few blank lines under that exercise so that I can write in the numbers as I do each set.
[Image: workout-journal.jpg]
STEP 3: Record tally marks as you complete your work sets.
When you’re in the middle of a workout, it can be easy to forget what set you just completed. This is especially true when the weight gets heavy and you’re too busy huffing and puffing to remember if you just finished set 4 or set 5.
To avoid this occasional mental lapse, I like to use tally marks to note when I finish each set. One quick mark and I always know where I’m at in the workout.
For me, the lifting sequence usually goes like this:
  1. Do the lift.
  2. Make a tally mark.
  3. Start the stopwatch to record my rest interval. (I use the stopwatch application on my phone to track rest intervals, but a regular stopwatch or a glance at the clock on the wall works just fine as well.)
  4. If necessary, change the weight for the next set.
  5. Repeat.
STEP 4: Vary this basic structure as needed for the training session.
The beauty of this system is that it’s incredibly versatile while still being clean and simple for any given workout. (Most apps and pieces of software meanwhile are either simple but limited, or versatile but bloated with features.)
For example, I rarely add rest intervals to my strength training sessions because they are almost always between 3 to 5 minutes. When I sprint, however, I prefer to have the rest interval listed because it is more integral to the workout. No problem. I just add it to the line under the exercise.
Here’s what a typical sprint workout looks like for me…
[Image: sprint-workout-journal.jpg]
And that’s it.
Bodyweight workouts, strength training workouts, sprint workouts—this workout journal works for all of them. It’s simple, it’s adjustable, and it works.

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  How Experts Practice Better Than the Rest
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Posted by: 01dragonslayer - 09-21-2023, 10:49 AM - No Replies

written by JAMES CLEAR
DELIBERATE PRACTICE GOAL SETTINGMy dad and I were standing in the front yard. Maybe that’s why I remember it. We typically practiced baseball in the backyard, but for some reason, we were out front that day. I was around 9 years old and learning how to pitch. My dad was walking me through the basic mechanics.
On this particular day, we were working on the backswing of my arm. The ball came out of the pocket of my glove, my elbow went up, and my arm began to swing back behind me in preparation to throw.
“Elbow up.” That was the cue. “Elbow up. Elbow up. Elbow up.”
We spent that whole session focused on one little movement of 12 inches or so when my hands parted and the backswing started. We probably repeated it hundreds of times that day. Sometimes with full throws, but mostly with drills and little practice patterns.
“Elbow up.”
We kept working on this for a few days and then, at some point, we stopped talking about getting my elbow up and moved on to the next phase of the pitching motion. It wasn’t until weeks later, when I realized we hadn’t said “Elbow up” in awhile, that I noticed that I was getting into the right position automatically.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this was one of my first exposures to the concept of deliberate practice.
What Do Experts Do For 10,000 Hours?Malcolm Gladwell published his blockbuster book, Outliers, in 2008 and the most talked-about idea from the text was the 10,000 Hour Rule. Gladwell, citing research by K. Anders Ericsson, explained that the key to becoming world-class in any field was to practice a specific task for at least 10,000 hours.
As you might expect, people quickly latched onto the number 10,000 and forgot the details of the argument.
Obviously, there is no magic in the 10,000th hour, but it is true that you need to put in a lot of work to become world-class in any task. However, the important question is this, “What should that work look like? If you want to become great at your craft, what exactly should you do with your 10,000 hours?”
You can’t simply put in your time and log 10,000 hours. You have to practice deliberately on a specific skill.
But what does that mean? What, exactly, does deliberate practice look like?
What is Deliberate Practice?During a 2012 talk, programmer and author Kathy Sierra explained deliberate practice with a very simple and elegant answer.
Deliberate practice is when you work on a skill that requires 1 to 3 practice sessions to master. If it takes longer than that, then you are working on something that is too complex.
Once you master this tiny behavior, you can move on to practicing the next small task that will take 1 to 3 sessions to master. Repeat this process for 10,000 hours. That is deliberate practice.
This is the first practical definition of deliberate practice that I have come across. It’s the first time I have seen the 10,000 Hour Rule broken down into something tangible that you can use at your next practice session or the next time you show up to work. And it also ties in quite nicely with the idea of getting 1 percent better each day. Each practice session should be focused on mastering a tiny skill that makes you slightly better at your craft.
The Idea in PracticeThis basic method of deliberate practice applies to nearly any behavior, but let’s use weightlifting as an example.
This is what deliberate practice might look like if you are trying to learn the clean and jerk…

  1. During the first session, you learn how to grip the bar properly and the fundamentals of the hook grip. There might be an additional session where you learn how to properly apply chalk to your hands before a lift.
  2. Once you learn how to grip the bar, the next session is focused on teaching you the basic movement with a broom stick in your hand. At this point, you are simply learning the primary phases of the lift.
  3. After a few sessions with the broom, you learn how to set the starting position of your feet. You experiment with different variations and get feedback over and over again on your foot position.
  4. Next, you learn how to get into the set position to begin the lift. Perhaps you spend a few sessions focusing on different aspects of this set position. For example, you might spend one day working on keeping your shoulders back and your scapula down as you prepare to lift off the floor. Or, you could spend another session learning how to take the slack out of the bar before beginning the lift.
  5. After that, you move on to actually lifting the bar off the floor (known as the “first pull”).
  6. And so on…
Notice that during each practice session focused on one individual skill. Your energy and effort were directed toward something small enough that you could master it (or at least master the basics of it) within 1 to 3 sessions.
Also notice, however, that each skill built upon the one before it. The knowledge that you built in early sessions, like learning how to grip the bar or how to set your feet properly, was required for succeeding in later sessions as well. (This is why good teachers make such a big deal about the fundamentals. Get them right and they help you every time you go to work. Get them wrong and every task suffers because of it.)
This is what deliberate practice looks like. I like the 10,000 Hour Rule because it is a reminder that you have to put in your reps. But it’s not as simple as working for a long time. It has to be vigilant work. And in many ways, you have to be continually obsessed with building upon your current skill set in small ways.
3 Questions for More Deliberate PracticeFrom what I can tell, the experts who embrace the idea of deliberate practice continually ask themselves three questions…
1. Do I understand the fundamentals? No matter how advanced they become, experts never lose sight of the fundamentals. In many ways, they are advanced for that very reason: they understand the fundamentals better than anyone else.
2. Am I working on the next step? There are a lot of smart people who know what the next step is, but never do it. Similarly, there are many people who take action, but waste time working on skills that don’t build upon each other. Experts build knowledge and skills that are cumulative.
3. What am I missing? One of the greatest pitfalls of the 10,000 Hour Rule is that it makes expertise seems like a finish line that can be crossed. It can’t. Expertise is not a race that can be won. It is simply a process that can be embraced. Experts are constantly asking themselves, “What am I missing? What new information is out there? What can I learn? How can I grow?”
Expertise is a process, not an outcome. “Elbow up.”

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  Martha Graham on the Hidden Danger of Comparing Yourself to Others
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Posted by: 01dragonslayer - 09-21-2023, 10:46 AM - No Replies

Agnes de Mille had just achieved the greatest success of her career, but right now the only thing she felt was confusion.
She was a dancer and a choreographer. Early in her career, de Mille had created the choreography for a ballet called Three Virgins and a Devil. She thought it was good work, but nobody made much of it.
A few years later, de Mille choreographed a ballet named Rodeo. Again, she thought her work was solid, but it resulted in little commercial fame.
[Image: agnes-de-mille.jpg]Agnes de Mille in her outfit for Rodeo. (Photograph by Maurice Seymour. Courtesy of Ronald Seymour/Maurice Seymour Archive.)Then, in 1943, de Mille choreographed Oklahoma!, a musical show from Rodgers and Hammerstein that enjoyed nearly instant success. In the coming years, Oklahoma! would run for an incredible 2,212 performances, both around the nation and abroad. In 1955, the film version won an Academy Award.
But the success of Oklahoma! confused her. She thought that her work on Oklahoma! was only average compared to some of her other creations. She later said, “After the opening of Oklahoma!, I suddenly had unexpected, flamboyant success for a work I thought was only fairly good, after years of neglect for work I thought was fine. I was bewildered and worried that my entire scale of values was untrustworthy. I talked to Martha.”
Martha was Martha Graham, perhaps the most influential dance choreographer of the 20th century. (Although not as well-known by the general public, Graham has been compared to other creative geniuses like Picasso or Frank Lloyd Wright.)
During their conversation, de Mille told Martha Graham about her frustration. “I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be.”
Graham responded by saying,
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
The Uselessness of Judging YourselfFor nearly two years, I have been publishing articles every Monday and Thursday on Some days the words come easier than others, and there have been plenty of times when I have felt a smaller version of what Agnes de Mille felt.
“I thought this was a good article. Why don’t people seem to enjoy it?” Or, I’ll feel like I wrote something average only to see it become the most popular post of the month. Regardless of the outcome, I’ve realized one thing: we are often terrible judges of our own work.
Martha Graham’s advice takes this concept a step further by explaining that not only are you a bad judge of your own work, it is not your job to judge your own work. It is not your place to compare it to others. It is not your responsibility to figure out how valuable it is or how useful it can be. It is not your job to tell yourself, “No.”
Instead, your responsibility is to create. Your job is share what you have to offer from where you are right now. To quote Pema Chodron, the Buddhist teacher, your job is to “come as you are.” (And then find your inner Sisu and keep coming.)
There are people in nearly every field of work who make each day a work of art by the way they do their craft. In other words, nearly everyone is an artist in one way or another. And every artist will judge their work. The key is to not let your self-judgment keep you from doing your thing. Professionals produce, even when it isn’t easy.
Keep Your Eyes on Your Own PaperIn grade school, I remember my teacher passing out an assignment and telling each student to “keep your eyes on your own paper.”
Perhaps she was simply trying to teach 8-year-olds to not cheat, but hidden within that phrase is also a deeper message about what really matters. It doesn’t make a difference what the person next to you writes down for his answer. This is your race to run. It’s your assignment to complete. It’s your answer to create. How your paper compares to someone else’s is not the point. The point is to fill the paper with your work.
The same can be said of your work today. No matter what you spend your days doing, every morning you wake up and have a blank piece of paper to work with. You get to put your name at the top and fill it with your work.
If what you write on your paper doesn’t meet someone else’s expectations … it is no concern of yours. The way someone else perceives what you do is a result of their own experiences (which you can’t control), their own tastes and preferences (which you can’t predict), and their own expectations (which you don’t set). If your choices don’t match their expectations that is their concern, not yours.
Your concern is to do the work, not to judge it. Your concern is to fall in love with the process, not to grade the outcome. Keep your eyes on your own paper.

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