Monthly Archives: April 2019

How To Control Negative Thoughts

In this post you’ll find a few tips on how to control negative thoughts.

Thinking is one of the most common and so in the background things that there are in life. Meaning that it is one of the things we spend most of our waking time doing, and yet, we barely pay attention to it, and how it influences our lives. The thing about the power of thought is that just like an investment today, it has an effect on the future. This effect creates a self-reinforcing loop in the sense that what we do today is a product of something we did yesterday, and what we will do tomorrow is largely a product of what we will do today. The same applies to thought. The kinds of thoughts we think today make some future outcomes more likely than others, and the ones that gain this advantage, by themselves play a role in making the overall newly formed pattern of our life more likely in the long term big picture future. In essence, what we think today, is likely to be what we think about tomorrow, and what we think about tomorrow is more likely to be what we think about in a month from now, three months from now, six, nine, and in the end of the day,  also what we think about on the course of our lifetime.

The world has awaken for this fact of life, and more and more people now look for ways to take control over this semi-automatic process that we call thought, since either we want or not, we always think about something as long as we’re awake. If we take a step forward we can claim that dreams themselves are the mind’s way of thinking while we sleep, which makes taking control over the kinds of music and sounds we’re exposed to while we sleep doubly important.

How to control negative thoughts

Negative thoughts are in general the most common kind of thoughts people tend to have. The reason why this is the case can be easily explained through the old theory of evolution. If we think of pessimism and comfort as polar opposites, we can see that the kind of people who’s always waiting for something bad to happen is more likely to be the person who is ready when something bad really does happen, and as a result the one who’s more likely to pass his/her genes forward.

The problem with chronic negativity is that it quickly wears you off. Soon you become depressed, and even when there is plenty of reasons to have a positive outlook in a situation, being negative in any shape or form becomes what we call “comfort food” for the mind. You feel at ease when you worry, and you worry when you feel the slightest feeling of happiness or relaxation. As you know, this is not a good way of living life, and so if you want to learn to manage your negativity, below are a few ideas.

1.Don’t run force them out

When faced with a problem, the human’s way of dealing with it tends to be by brute force. If we look deeply into this tendency we quickly find that it is pretty much a product of our primitive brains. We have to make some effort to think logically about a problem, and when this approach fails we quickly revert to the old way of doing things. We find it easier to muscle our way into conflicts, and the extent to which we keep going is directly related to the level of our ability to persist.

The truth is that although not always efficient, often it is the case that something will give in for a sustained attack to it. Negative thoughts on the other hand, tend to have a more counter intuitive reaction to this kind of approach. In essence, as you’ve probably noticed at some point or another, the more you try to push a negative thought away, the more it takes control over your mind. Here force is not the answer.

There are two approaches you can take, if you want to make a direct attack to negative thoughts. The first is to replace them with their polar opposite. Instead of trying to not think you’re not good enough, the strategy is to remind yourself of the moments you accomplished something, no matter how small, with the assumption that if you were able to accomplish something small you definitely can accomplish something small but with a small increase in difficulty, and on and on, until what you call small, really is huge in the eyes of others.

The second strategy is to let the negativity in and through small exposures, become desensitized to it. This can be a dangerous strategy at times specially if you’re going through a rough time in life, since it’s at these times that the mind finds it easier to think only about the worst things. So, use it with caution. Use it in the way you would if you wanted to develop a tolerance to some poison over time. The trick is to let the negativity in small dosages, and not these small dosages beat you down, then increasing them until the whole is as manageable as a weight for which your muscles are conditioned to is.

2.Find the root cause

This is probably the one thing I find the most effective on my efforts to control and defeat negative thoughts. At the essence of any negative or positive thought lies some seed of truth. When we feel sad, we feel so for a reason. When we feel happy and confident, we feel so for a reason. We tend to think that feelings of insecurity and confidence come out of nowhere. Just like the weather it is true that we can’t predict our moods in a moment by moment basis, but overall we can. That’s why we take the concept of seasons for granted.  Yes it’s difficult to predict how warm the day that comes 3 months and 2 days from now be with exact detail, but overall we can make a pretty good estimate of the possible ranges of temperatures.

Our day to day moods  can be affected by a variety of things. From a bad/good night of sleep, to the fact that you were temporarily exposed to mouldy air and you weren’t aware of it. But overall, the picture is different. Our mood in the course of days, weeks, months and years can be thought of as deterministic. Think of it as a general mood of your life. Almost like the seasons in a year the way you go about living your life can give us a pretty good estimate of the kinds of thoughts you’ll have rolling around in your head. We can’t predict the exact thoughts and detail, but the overall umbrella can be crystal clear.

So, the idea here is to find the root cause of any and all negative thoughts that go through your head. You might be feeling depressed not because you are wired for depression, but because you feel insecure about your accomplishments in life. You might feel insecure about your accomplishments in life because you didn’t put enough effort into learning the things you have to learn, or into trying exhaustively the whole array of possibilities that life presents. Which means that you feel depressed because you haven’t being work hard enough, and a part of subconscious mind needs you to do something about it, and its way of urging you to action is by feelings of worthlessness and anxiety. Think about it, if you’ve had any of the feelings above before, chances are that after taking action they either decreased in intensity, or vanished completely. So, resist the urge to take the first explanation for your negative thoughts that come to mind at face value, and when you do find the root cause of your negativity, do something about it.

3. Check your surroundings

Sometimes negativity is one of these outside coming in kind of things. Meaning that we tend to assume that because the thoughts roll around in our heads, then they must have been originated in our heads. This is true some of the times, but some not at all negligible times, this negativity we so desperately try to control comes from the outside. The people who we spend most of our time around, who with or without our permission download their negativity to us, are often the reason why we feel the way we feel.

If you notice that this is the case, then for the sake of your own mental and spiritual health take the necessary steps to minimize if not completely eliminate the time you spend around that kind of people. You’ll know you’ve been around that kind of person when more often than not you leave any encounters with them feeling depressed, demotivated, or with some feeling of negativity no matter how small.

4.Check on your chemistry

Sometimes negativity is not just a mental kind of matter. Sometimes negativity and depression are nothing but our body’s way of telling us that it is undergoing some sort of chemical imbalance.  This is an explanation of last resort when all possible attempts to understand why you feel negative fail. This is why, if you think this might be the case, the way to go is not to read blog posts, or books on what medicine to take to make you are more positive person, but to consult a doctor.

The starting point should be to make sure you eat healthy and exercise on a regular basis. You should also make sure you have always have a good night sleep, and if the thoughts are numerous, borderlining on depression then you should consult a physician. If there is some sort of chemical imbalance they should be able to tell you about it, and give the best advice on how to best manage/improve it.

Summary

The last thing to think about is whether you really want to remove all negativity and pessimism from your life. Like anything in life, negativity and pessimism have their own role to play. They keep us grounded, and help us take the necessary steps to prevent catastrophic outcomes.

Think about the idea of constructive criticism for example.  Like any other form of criticism this is an assault to an idea you might have. The good thing about it is that it helps you sharpen your reasoning and your beliefs, in a way that it brings you closer to the truth. The point is to before removing any and all forms of negativity from your life, to think about their underlining effect/role. Are they enforcing growth, or leading you to a path of destruction?

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Make Good Decisions In Life

In this post you’ll find a few ideas on how to make good decisions in life.

Life is about many things, and depending on your frame of reference some things matter more than others. Think about the two biggest motivators any human being usually has: love and money. On one hand are the kind of people who live and swear by the importance and worth of the first. According to them, one can have as much wealth as one wants, but without love, love encompassing all kind of close relationships, the money will have almost no worth. Eventually the billionaire gets tired of his/her billions and soon the primal crave for close relationships becomes the kind of itch one can only scratch by having the real deal, not through money acquired replacements.

On the other side of the fence are the kind of people who believe in the importance of the second, meaning wealth building, and just like the first group they  make a good point of why they see the world in the way they see it. For them one can have love, which in fact most people do have, but without the freedom and possibilities that come from money, one will always be subject to the wills of life and nature. Both sides make a good defence for their cases, and in fact, the truth is that whoever votes completely for one or the other makes the classic mistake of going for extremes. As you’re probably aware of, few are the cases in which an extreme position is the wisest and without consequences coming from the natural attempt of nature to balance that which is out of balance.

There is one thing however that happens to be ubiquitous. When thinking about the answers for big deal questions such as : what is the meaning of life? And what are the kinds of things that really matter? We easily go for the obvious, and if we’re like most people we settle for the obvious. This one thing behind all things is: the ability to make decisions, and more important even is the ability  to make good decisions.

How to make good decisions in life

The power of decisions is such a big deal that it has been mentioned multiple times across history. In religion, especially in Christianity, where it’s believed that one is responsible for all that one does on its lifetime because God gave to all what we know as free will. We chose one leader to govern over millions if not billions of people mostly because we believe that the one we call the president has some above average ability to make the best decisions for the good of all. The whole idea behind the judicial system where the court has the power to sentence an individual only based on the assumption that this one individual is/was sane at the time of the crime. The point is that decisions are a big deal, and below are a few tips on making good ones in life.

1.Outsource as much as you can to more capable people

One very well understood idea in computing science is the idea of libraries. The developer desires to build a piece of software, and instead of building everything from scratch, it choses instead to leverage the work of other software developers who came before her. It’s the old standing on the shoulders of giants concept. The obvious benefit that comes from this approach is that one can build more software more quickly, but above all, and perhaps even more important, is that one can build more software with less mistakes, also known as bugs.

In your decision making, making the wrong decision might be detrimental, and it might also be the case that you don’t have the required knowledge to make the best decision you can at the moment. For these cases, the best thing to do, especially if you’re short on time is to ask someone with the requisite knowledge and experience. This doesn’t mean to ask anyone, but only those who have experience and real knowledge on the kinds of decisions you want to make. This means not asking the plumber about health related issues and vice versa.

The big thing to do here, if you want to make good decisions in life in general and not in just one moment, is to build your own composite of people whose decision making abilities you trust. This is what the investor Tai Lopez says “the voices in your head” our “your multitude of counsellors”. The benefits of this approach are multiple. Starting from the fact that suggestions coming from more experienced people are more likely to be the more correct ones, and on top of that you also get to learn and pick up from them the set of things that matter in a good decision making process.

2. Grow your mind

The second thing is to grow your mind. This as you know can be done in many ways, among them: reading, courses and mentors, all of which are shown to be efficient in showing the ignorance to the ignorant, and bringing him to the light, given that the books you read, the courses you take and the mentors you pick are of quality.

A part of making good decisions is being able to tell when a decision is imprudent or how likely it is to result in unpleasant consequences. This is why as counter intuitive as it might seem, people who know a little about a subject tend to be more vocal about what they supposedly know, or how smart they are, while people who really know about a subject tend to ask more questions and be more vocal about how much they don’t know.  So, pay attention to when you feel particularly confident about a decision you’re making, because often confidence comes not from the sense of certainty of success but from ignorance. How ignorant are you?

3. Avoid rushed decisions

The third is to avoid rushed decisions. We live In a time in which more and more companies value the ability to make decisions with limited time and under stress. While this might be good to impress your boss, it’s definitely not the way to go if you want a good decision making average across your lifetime. Take the time to make decisions when you can afford to, especially if they are  a big deal for your life/career. Often the sense of confidence that hits us before we make a decision comes not from again certainty, but from emotion, and as we all know, making emotional decisions are  a sure way to not get what we want in life. So, finding out when you’re about to make an emotional decision, and taking some time to get them to wear off, is a great place to start from if you want to make the right decision in the first place. Over time you’ll notice that confidence in an action comes and goes just like a good/bad weather.

This is doubly important when there is a third party making pressure for you to commit to something, be that something a product, a cause or even  a person. The reason for this is that anyone using the time card to pressure you into making a decision probably doesn’t have your best interest in heart. The thing about the brain is that we don’t walk around with clear minds all day long. Just like creativity sometimes we get it and sometimes we don’t . So, reserving any decision making to the moments of greatest mental clarity, especially in the morning is perhaps one of the best things you can do to your decision making process.

4. Find your best time

The last tip is to find your best decision making times, and moments. Different people are wired differently, so it’s no surprise that some people make their best decisions after they wake up, while others during the night when they go to the washroom. Some make better decisions alone, while others make better decisions in groups. Whatever it is, you owe it to yourself to find out the set of factors that positively contribute to your decision making process. What are they?

Summary

The points above are just a starting point. #1 is definitely one many people are not aware of since, we live in a word that encourages us to take the decision making process to the confines of our own minds. Asking for some one else’s opinion thus is a handy tool, which just like any tool has to be used with the ultimate care, since having the wrong person influencing your decision making process might be worse than making an uninformed decision by yourself. # 3 is one most people can get quickly and try to implement but that requires practice and willpower, since often it’s the case that the people pressuring you to make the decision have some influence or importance in your life.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How to be better than average

In this post you’ll find a few ideas on how to be better than average.

The world we live in is one in which as time goes the greater the competition becomes on pretty much every facet of life. If you think about it for long enough you eventually notice that rare are the cases in which one can enter a field and with little to no effort dominate it completely. Even for these few cases In which one manages to do it, the  competition eventually piles up and what was once so easy to thrive on, today is not worth scratching your head around. In business this is clearer than ever. When today you find a gold mine, tomorrow is guaranteed that that gold mine won’t yield the same results as it does today. So without being pessimistic you make the most out of it, and if you’re quick enough you even manage to build yourself a solid position, so when competition does come, you’re so far ahead that it doesn’t matter. But, what if whatever you’re competing for is already crowded? Well, for that there is only one way out: to outperform the competition, in other words, you have to be better than average.

How to be better than average

So, how can you be better than average? The thing about this question is that is so vague and so easily applies to many different contexts that one can hardly believe that there is one straightforward answer that applies to all. But what if there is? Lucky for us this is the case, since just like success principles although vague and applicable to many different contexts, we once in a while stumble into one principle that applies to every success related problem/question we might have. Just like a master key that opens all doors regardless of the lock, the newly found principle is often so powerful that it eventually becomes a part of our lives and the way we see the world.

1.Have  a clear idea of your starting place

The first step to being better than average is to become aware of your starting place. Just like in a long journey you can only know how far to go to a certain direction based on where you’re starting. So, how much closer to the average are you really? We have this weird relationship with the world average, where just because it quantifies something about most people we are quick to assume that it applies to most people. The average is as the name says the average. Nothing more nothing less. Take  wealth distribution example for example. If in a family we have one billionaire and the remaining 20 members are completely broke, the average would reflect a completely different picture than the one painted by reality. The average for someone outside looking in would make the person think of that family as particularly wealthy and probably even start making some assumptions about genes, and what that makes that family as successful as it is, when the truth is that only one person is responsible for all the wealth and that the one person responsible for it is probably nothing more than an outlier.

The point is that just because there is an average that doesn’t mean that it applies to you, and chances are that it won’t , at least not perfectly. So, you need to know how close to the average you really are, and from there you can have  a clearer idea of how hard you have to work to surpass it. And on the few cases that you find out that you’re in fact above average, the next and more exciting question then becomes: how much higher above average do you want to be?

2. Find out how much average has to work to be average

Someone said that in life we’re not static. Meaning that we’re either improving or moving backwards, even when we think we’re doing nothing. This means that even the so looked down average results take some work, because any less might render the average player less than average at best, and at worst what we deem mediocre. If to be an average chess player the key to success is to practice 3 hours a day, the first step is to get your practice habits up to that level if they’re not already, and after you get there, then shoot for 3.5 – 4. The key here is to create the habit to working for as long as you want/need when you want/need. Depending on your baseline this might be as simple as just being aware of what you do and keep doing it, or as hard as breaking old and deep rooted poor work ethic habits. On the first you’re a part of the group of people who maybe had some work ethic introduced to them early in life, and although not the most aggressive, with that level you can accomplish a few things in life. On the latter you’re probably the kind of person who either didn’t get any exposure to it, or for some reason found it difficult to implement it to your life. Whichever it is, you need to be aware of it and take the necessary steps towards the right direction. This is why point 1(knowing your baseline) and point 2(knowing how much to work to be average) are in the order they are.

3. To have above average accomplishments you need to make above average efforts

This is the one idea that we all know almost intuitively but that often secretly wish wasn’t the truth. We know that to get what we want, as (Charlie Munger )  said once you have to deserve what you want, and yet many of us still to this day fall for the so called get rich quick schemes. The plot always begins with the person luring us to their “magical” product with the premise that they know some secret most people don’t, and that this secret made the rich beyond their ears. It follows then that they can tell us what that secret is, only if we give them the small fee of $99.99. Surprisingly two questions never reach our conscious awareness, the first being:  why do they price it that way? Why not $100? A question for which the answer would likely make us twice before thinking about buying their product. The answer to the first is marketing. They want to make the offer more attractive. But if this offer Is so magical that it can change one’s life in a snap of a finger, why would they need to make it attractive in the first place? Isn’t the fact that you can become rich overnight an attractive offer enough? For $100?

The second and even more important question is: if they are so successful, meaning if they have this machine that can virtually print money out of thin air, why would they need to sell it? Why not just “print” the money? For this question in the few times that it does arrive the answer is that they want to give back to the world, which could be true, but an even deeper question arises: why not give it for free then?

Not surprisingly, many still fall for the same trick over and over, simply because deep down we know that the road to get what we want requires effort, and that it can be exhausting, and the brain cannot help but to fall and fail to recognize a too good to be true idea when it sees one.

The point is that as much as you’ll want to find shortcuts, most of the time raw work is what you’ll have to do. There will be cases in which you will be able to cut 8 hours worth of work into 4 or 2, but to base your whole success strategy into just finding these quick small wins is a losing strategy. Sometimes the work won’t be physical but mental. The ability to sit and think about a problem for 8 hours, or coming up with a novel and creative idea never seen before is often underrated. When we think of hard work we think sweat and sore muscles, and forget that thinking your brain into brain fog to the degree that you can’t even recognize mundane words is hard work too. Just of a different kind.

So I guess this point is also about knowing in what way you’re required to work hard, and do that even when you don’t feel like it. If to be average  all you have to do is to put 4 hours of work, this is the time to start putting 5 or 6.

Summary

The last thing I would like to discuss with you is about the power of quantification. The brain is a beautiful  and powerful thing in the sense that given enough time and repetition one can trick it into believing in even the wildest of the beliefs. The same applies to your progress in your journey to become an above the pack person. It’s very easy to convince yourself that you’re improving and getting better than the majority when you’re not. The way to know it is to find a way to quantify it. If your practice time is linked to the level of acquired skill, being  a “slave” of the watch, although not the best of strategies can prove wildly beneficial. If the amount of money you make is the way so be it, as long as you have a concrete way of measuring your progress other than any subjective measure you might have in mind.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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How To Live A Well-planned Life?

In this post you’ll find a few ideas on how to live a well-planned life.

The ability to design a plan of attack and promptly execute it is one of the most important skills to have if we want to succeed in business, relationships, and pretty much any activity that tends to be difficult to accomplish in general, and whose rewards when we do are massive. If you didn’t notice, what tends to happen is that the most rewarding the results, the harder it is to attain them, and the more and more we need a plan of attack. As the rewards grow bigger acting without a plan goes from being a mere inconvenience to a sure way to not get what you want.

The problem with plans is that they resemble a lot the word discipline, which is often associated with the stereotypical person who pays attention to detail, can never get tired of doing boring things, and whose life is a complete depiction of the word micromanagement. The thing is that just like most things in life, this is a poor generalization of how things really go. There are people who live wild lives, and at the same time are able to create and carry out the most details of the plans.

How to live a well-planned life?

So, how to you live a well-planned life?  The first thing is to distinguish between the ability to create a plan, and living a planned life. While the first is only required once in a while, the latter is the kind of thing which is required all the time 24/7. Just like a daemon in the software world, it is the kind of thing that should always be in the background, behind every decision we make, and embedded in every single one of our time management strategies. One is important, and the other is vital for a well-lived life.

1. Acknowledge the importance of structure

Anyone who wants to and eventually does live a planned life will recognize sooner or later the importance of structure. Just like with plans and discipline, structure is another one of these words we tend to easily use to define people who live boring and unfulfilling lives. By adding more structure to your days, you gain  a sense of freedom since your mind has to think less about less important things and more about the things that really matter for you. This is about implementing the plan of your life. The one you created so you can live the dream you have for yourself.

With structure also comes along the word automation. The point is to automate as much as your day to day as you can, and pre-decide as much as your future decisions as you can. One famous example of the first is the various pieces of software out there that make your life easier by doing any repetitive for you.

As for the latter, one example is the one so often spoken about of the many billionaires who intentionally have a limited wardrobe so they don’t even have to think about what to wear everyday in the morning. Structure can be liberating in ways you can’t imagine given of course that you set some time aside to do it.

2.Figure the end goal early

The secret to having the perfect long term plan is to have  first a clear idea of what the perfect end goal is. The plan is just the representation of the things you have to do to get there, in the same way that a  computer program is nothing more than the set of simple instructions required to produce a desired output. It’s easy for most people to obsess about the plan, and get frustrated when they either can’t come up with one, or for the ones they manage to create, the results are never the desired ones. Often the problem arises from a lack of clarity on what we want to achieve. So, a well-planned life starts with figuring out what we want that life to be about.

This is more difficult than we think for the mere reason that as crazy as it sounds, it can be very difficult to know what we want. As we grow up we are often told what we are supposed to like and want, and what we are not supposed to. Even as adults, we still behave like teenagers  scanning around looking for clues on what’s acceptable or not, completely ignoring what our natural wiring desires. So we walk around sure that we know the things we like and the things we don’t, until we take some time to ponder about the mysterious set of traits and tendencies that makes us, us. Take some time to understand yourself on how you think, and what drives you even if you think you know yourself enough.

3.Break down the big picture into its respective pixels

The third thing is to break down the larger than life problem of big picture goal achievement into smaller components, such that when accomplished independently they materialize the dream before your eyes. This is a very common strategy on the field of computing science, where a big problem is broken down into its dependent/independent subparts, and part by part the developers bring themselves closer to solving the bigger picture problem.

One easy example of this is on the mastery of multiple areas of life as a strategy to gain balance and that sense of happiness and fulfilment. I’m talking about the very known areas of relationships, finance and spirituality. One way to go about it would be to try to attack all of them at once. To while making sure the person you think is the one really is the one you also try to run a successful business, and have deep connection with God. Even though this is possible, gaining mastery of each area independently can be draining. So, the problem of a happy life is broken down into 3, and as time goes by we focus on each one for long enough to master it, and only then we move on to the next sub problem.

4.Write down the game plan

The last thing from this post is after getting the first three points figured out to write down the grand plan. It’s now common wisdom that just thinking about what you’re going to do is not enough to make sure you actually do it. So there goes one major advantage of committing your plans to paper, this is in addition of course to the fact that it frees up space in your brain to think much more deeply and down the road. And the more detailed the plan the easier it can be to systematically carrying it out in the same way that having a full start to finish map of an area makes it far easier to navigate through the terrain.

Writing a plan down in detail also allows us to get feedback from other people since it makes it far easier to clearly show them what you’re thinking, and without leaving any important details out.

It is all about knowledge and experience 😉

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