New research explores problems arising from chronic job insecurity.

People who experience prolonged episodes of job insecurity are at risk of becoming less agreeable, less conscientious, and more neurotic, according to new research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

This is based on data collected from 1,046 employees participating in the Household, Income, and Labor Dynamics in Australia survey over a nine-year period.

“Results showed that chronic job insecurity over four or five preceding years predicted a small increase in neuroticism and a small decrease in agreeableness,” say the researchers, led by Chia-Huei Wu of Leeds University Business School. “This study suggests that job insecurity has important implications for one’s personality when experienced over a long-term period.”

Not all personality traits were influenced by job insecurity, however. The personality trait of extraversion remained largely unchanged, as did people’s willingness to step outside of their comfort zone and engage in new experiences.

According to the researchers, chronic job insecurity leads to prolonged episodes of stress, which can produce lasting personality changes—for instance, causing people to be more on edge, less disciplined, less organized, and more disagreeable.

These results represent an example of “personality fluidity,” or the idea that personality is not as “fixed” or unchangeable as previously thought. Emerging research suggests that our personalities tend to evolve gradually over time, usually for the better. For instance, people tend to become more conscientious, less narcissistic, and more emotionally stable as they age. However, things can also go in the other direction, especially when people experience prolonged episodes of stress, as this research points out.

Moreover, the researchers expect the negative effects of job-related stress on mental health to get worse as the gig economy expands. They state, “Patterns of employment have become increasingly unstable and insecure, or precarious, with temporary and contract-based employment becoming mainstream. […] The growing prevalence of job insecurity is recognized as a key psycho-social risk of future work.”

What can be done to combat the risks? The authors suggest that governments should offer stronger safety nets to protect citizens from labor market vicissitudes. In fact, one study found that countries offering a strong national social safety net buffered the negative link between job insecurity and work attitudes.

At the organizational level, companies should offer stable terms of employment when it is possible to do so. Organizations might also invest in interventions aimed at increasing employee engagement and well-being. According to the researchers, such targeted interventions can “alleviate employees’ negative emotional responses to their jobs, reduce withdrawal from work, and decrease self-focused attention, thereby preventing a downward spiral toward personality change.”

Other research suggests just how effective employee well-being interventions can be when done right. A team of scientists led by Ad Bergsma of Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands analyzed the results of 61 happiness training studies published between 1972 and 2019. They found that the majority of these studies showed a positive effect on employees’ levels of happiness.

“Happiness training techniques seem to do what they are designed to do,” state Bergsma and his team. “Ninety-six percent of the studies showed a gain in happiness post-intervention and at follow-up, and about half of the positive results were statistically significant.”

References

Wu, C. H., Wang, Y., Parker, S. K., & Griffin, M. A. (2020). Effects of chronic job insecurity on Big Five personality change. Journal of Applied Psychology.

Mark Travers, Ph.D., is a psychologist who writes about human potential and the science of reaching it.

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Feel aggrieved? Don’t stew. Raise a stink! These people did.

I don’t mean to complain, but … OK, actually, I do. And I’m not alone. We all do it. And our gripes can get so ugly that we describe the very act as “venting one’s spleen.” Such is the world today that we will whine about anything (“Ugh … Why does global warming always happen to me?!”). Just like every other creature that roams the earth (“Why does Earth have to be so muddy?!”), whiners come in different shapes, sizes, and attitudes. See if you recognize yourself in any of the following descriptions..

Impossible to Please

A man who robbed a Wendy’s in Atlanta was so put off by his skimpy haul that he called the restaurant twice to voice his disapproval. That’s better than what police say Arthur Bundrage did. Bundrage approached a Syracuse, New York, bank teller and demanded $20,000. When he got home, he discovered he’d been shortchanged. Outraged, he stormed back to the bank to tell them what he thought of their service. That’s when he was arrested.

—Source: Associated Press

Easily Offended

For all the money spent on vacations, is it too much to expect perfection? These travelers didn’t think so. Here’s a taste of what they told their travel agents:

“On my holiday to India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food at all.”
A guest at a Novotel in Australia complained that his soup was too thick. He was inadvertently slurping gravy.
Following a trip to a national theme park, one angry woman complained that the sun was so hot it melted her ice cream.
An air traveler voiced her disapproval of all the clouds in the sky, saying they ruined her children’s game of Eye Spy.

—Source: Toronto Star, telegraph.co.uk

Snidely Whiplash

An unimpressed guest sent this missive to a British hotel regarding its decor:

“The ’70s style really is making a comeback, isn’t it? The fact that yours is actually original gives the place that touch of authenticity … The lighting was also very good—and bright. No point in having a great interior if it’s too dark to see it, and you never know when you might have to indulge in a bit of complex cardiothoracic surgery, so it’s better to be safe than sorry, I say.”

Next: Richard Branson gets slammed with a zero-star review

Richard Branson Virgin Airlines Zero Star ReviewRichard Branson received this note from a passenger after a zero-star meal on Branson’s Virgin Airlines:

“On the left, we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown gluelike oil, and on the right, the chef has prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken, and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird …”

—From dearcustomerrelations.com

Tech Savvy

Confronting a neighbor is so 1990. Now, we can relabel our Wi-Fi networks to do the dirty work for us. According to BBC News, instead of the typical innocuous network names like “wireless1,” some apartment residents are encountering more creative ones such as “Stop mooching our Internet,” “Stop slamming the door!!!” and “Stop wearing heels!”

Resort to Curses

No, not the @#$% variety of cursing, but the old-fashioned eye-of-newt kind. That’s what comedian Eugene Mirman did in a letter he published as an ad in the New York Times. It was addressed to execs at Time Warner Cable after an installation appointment had been canceled. In it, he wished the following upon the suits:

  • Every board member’s cell phone [should] ring loudly [and] announce their weight.
  • Your second-born will smell like hot buttered popcorn. It’s not that bad at first, but eventually I bet it will be maddening.

Passive-Aggressive

Not looking to get into a screaming match? Take a clue from this Christmas card, in which one neighbor writes to another: “Sorry we have lost touch. I guess I have to accept your not wanting to be friends anymore. Enjoy the holidays.”

This note from one roommate to another: “I cleaned most of the apartment so please keep it tidy while you move out. —Kelsey
P.S. Go to hell.”

When a grandmother didn’t receive a thank-you note from her 20-something granddaughter, she wrote it herself and sent it to the ungrateful young lady. It read: “Dear Grandma, Received the check. Thank you! Love, Megan.”

—From passiveaggressivenotes.com

Next: What happens when humorist Philip Roth tries to edit his own Wikipedia page

Writer Philip Roth recently took to the pages of the New Yorker to share his disbelief that a popular online resource did not consider him an expert on the works of Philip Roth.

“I had reason recently to read for the first time the Wikipedia entry discussing my novel The Human Stain. This item entered Wikipedia not from the world of truthfulness but from the babble of literary gossip—there is no truth in it at all. Yet when … I petitioned Wikipedia to delete this misstatement, along with two others, [I was told] that I was not a credible source: ‘I understand your point that the author is the greatest authority on his own work,’ writes the Wikipedia administrator—‘but we require secondary sources.’ ”

Bring Out the Big Guns

Jerry Wojcik signed up to get three to five text messages a week from the Buffalo Bills. When he started getting six or seven, he decided that that was just too much for a football fan to read, so he sued the NFL team to the tune of $500 per “unlawful” message.

Not to be outdone was Warren Nyerges. He paid cash for his house in Naples, Florida, so he was surprised when Bank of America foreclosed on it. The dispute was settled after Nyerges hired a lawyer. But the bank refused to pay Nyerges’s legal fees. So Nyerges turned the tables and foreclosed on Bank of America. His lawyer, accompanied by a sheriff, arrived at a bank branch with the intention of confiscating money, furniture, and computers—worth the equivalent of what they were owed. A moving truck was even parked outside. The bank quickly produced a check for the fee.

—Sources: ESPN, Time

Complaint of Lasting Interest

A night at the opera was ruined for the great Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw when a fellow patron of the arts took her seat in front of him wearing a feathered nightmare. Shaw was so horror-struck, that he penned this screed to the London Times:

“At nine o’clock (the opera began at eight), a lady came in and sat down very conspicuously in my line of sight. She remained there until the beginning of the last act. I do not complain of her coming late and going early; on the contrary, I wish she had come later and gone earlier. For this lady, who had very black hair, had stuck over her right ear the pitiable corpse of a large white bird, which looked exactly as if someone had killed it by stamping on the beast and then nailed it to the lady’s temple, which was presumably of sufficient solidity to bear the operation. I am not, I hope, a morbidly squeamish person; but the spectacle sickened me … I once, in Drury Lane Theatre, sat behind a matinee hat decorated with the two wings of a seagull, artificially reddened at the joints so as to produce the illusion of being freshly plucked from a live bird. But even that lady stopped short of a whole seagull.”

—From lettersofnote.com

Excerpts of an article by Mark Manson





Goals of the Attention Diet

Our attention is being assaulted on a few different fronts. First off, there’s just a massive surplus of stuff to pay attention to. And the more crap there is to pay attention to, the more difficult it is to choose what to focus on — not to mention actually stay focused on it. So, the first and most important goal of the Attention Diet should be to consciously limit the number of distractions we’re exposed to.
This raises the question: What stuff is worth paying attention to? What should we give a fuck about? Basically, the name of the game is quality over quantity. Because in a world with infinite information and opportunity, you don’t grow by knowing or doing more, you grow by correctly focusing on less. Therefore, the second goal of the Attention Diet is to find highly nutritious sources of information and relationships and then build our lives around them.
So, how do we define “junk” information and relationships and “nutritious” information and relationships?

Well, let’s keep it simple:
Junk information is information that is unreliable, unhelpful, or unimportant (i.e. it affects few to no people in any significant way). Junk information is short-form, flashy, and emotionally charged, encouraging addictive consumption patterns.
Nutritious information is information that is reliable, helpful, and likely important (i.e., it affects you and others in significant ways). Nutritious information is analytical and encourages deep engagement and extended thought.
Junk relationships are people/groups with whom you have little face-to-face contact with and/or little mutual trust, who bring out your insecurities and consistently make you feel worse about yourself or the world.
Nutritious connections are people/groups who you have frequent face-to-face contact with and/or a lot of mutual trust who make you feel better and help you grow.

Note: The Attention Diet should be emotionally difficult to implement. Ultimately, junk information hooks us because it is pleasing and easy. We rely on it to numb a lot of our day-to-day stresses and insecurities. Therefore, getting rid of junk information will expose a lot of uncomfortable emotions, trigger cravings, and compulsions, and generally suck for the first few days or weeks.

Step 1: The social media cleanse

Apply the law of “Fuck Yes or No” to your social media connections. Go through all of your friends/follows lists and ask yourself one question: “Is being connected with this person adding value to my life?” If the answer isn’t an emphatic “Fuck Yes,” then unfriend or unfollow them. Get fucking ruthless. This is your attentional health we’re talking about here.

Unfollow all news outlets on social media. Too many articles are written for clicks, not for veracity and utility. Social media plays into these worst incentives of the media. Websites fight for your clicks by upsetting you, by poking at hot-button issues that feel as though they matter a great deal, but actually don’t. They create addictive cycles of outrage, which not only fail to inform you about what you need to know but actually make you more resistant to facts. As citizens, it’s our duty to opt out of this toxic system. And the first (and simplest) way to do that is to simply unfollow and unsubscribe from news sources on social media. (Don’t worry, I will discuss better ways to stay informed and receive news below.)

Uninstall any apps that feel pointless after doing the above. If you did the two steps above correctly, your social media accounts should be much leaner, and in some cases, almost empty. This is good. The beauty of unfollowing/unfriending masses of connections is that not only do you get rid of all of the toxic and unhealthy information hijacking your attention, but you also have maybe 10% as much content when you log on. You scroll your newsfeed a couple of times, and voila! You’re back to looking at the same shit you saw yesterday. Time to put your phone down and go do something useful. But before you do that, take another look at your social media accounts. Chances are that some of them are so barren that there’s hardly even a reason to open them anymore. Uninstall them. The beauty of simplifying your accounts like this is that it really shows you which platforms provide pleasure and which are just there because you feel like you have to be on them. After doing this myself, I realized that I while actually enjoy Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Instagram, Facebook is just this annoying thing I have to be on for my job. So, I deleted Facebook off my phone. It felt weird at first, but I realized that I was needlessly checking it five-plus times each day. Deleting it freed me from the habit.

Step 2: Choose good sources of information and connection

Current events
Try this: Only get your news from the current events page of Wikipedia. This will give you the bare minimum of information you need.

Wikipedia is actively curated to remove bias, political leanings, and false statements — something that’s no longer as true as used to be about many news outlets. Obviously, no website is perfect, and Wikipedia certainly has its own flaws, but as a news source, I’ve found it to be: 1) a breath of fresh air and 2) often completely boring.

The boringness is good, partly because a just-the-facts delivery will necessarily be dry, but also because boredom has no bias. If you feel like you’re reading a TV repair manual, then you’re probably just getting the facts and nothing else. Best of all, making the news boring again encourages you to only read about what is truly important or impactful for you.

But, you may be thinking, there are important issues — like the coronavirus pandemic and climate change and civil rights and economic inequality — that require lots of information and critical thinking. What about those? Well, glad you asked…

Long-form content
Long-form content should be your bread and butter for news and the majority of your entertainment content. Long-form content can come from any medium — books, podcasts, long-form articles, documentaries. The key is that consuming it requires you to slow down and deeply engage.

There are two benefits of limiting yourself to mostly long-form content. The first is that, generally, it’s going to involve far more research, nuance, and thought than short-form content. Stupidity in a tweet can sound deep. Stupidity repeated for 12,000 words quickly makes itself apparent.

The second benefit is that it hones our attention span and gets us accustomed to sitting with topics for extended periods of time. It helps us to not fall prey to our immediate knee-jerk responses. It gives us the space to wonder, “What if my assumption is wrong? What if I’m the one with dick breath in this argument?”
The long-form content applies to entertainment, too. Don’t just watch sports clips all day, watch a documentary about your favorite player. Don’t just listen to a hit song over and over, put on the full album. Don’t just play a dinky iPhone game over and over, find a video game you can immerse yourself into and think critically about its elements and story. The idea is to regularly stretch your attention span and exercise it like a muscle.

Step 3: Schedule your diversions

The same way you might plan a “cheat day” or make an agreement with yourself that you’ll only have X number of desserts or Y number of drinks each week, the same goes for your attention. Email should be a consciously chosen activity done at a specific time to maximize its purpose. It’s not something you compulsively refresh every 30 seconds. The same goes for social media.

Below are the guidelines that I try to stick to and are working well in my life.

Obviously, everyone’s mileage will vary:
Email twice per day. I try to limit myself to two email blocks each day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. In the morning session, I only look at and respond to important/urgent emails. In the afternoon, a couple times a week, I’ll clear my whole inbox.

Use social media for 30 minutes per day. This is a work in progress for me. I’m fine on my work computer; the problem is my phone. I still get caught on the same loops refresh Twitter, refresh Facebook, refresh Instagram, refresh Twitter, and on and on. I recently removed Facebook from my phone (per above guidelines), but Twitter and Instagram still suck me in.

Leave my phone out of my office during the day and my bedroom at night: I’m good about leaving it out of the office when I need to write. The bedroom is still an issue for me.

Okay, this is all fine and dandy, but how the hell do we hold ourselves to this? How do we actually implement these concepts into our lives in a way that feels sustainable, and not just another willpower exercise doomed to fail?

Step 4: Implementation

In my book Everything is Fucked: A Book About Hope, I redefine freedom as self-limitation. Freedom in the 21st century isn’t about having more, it’s about having the agency to choose your commitments to less.

To achieve that, we need to set boundaries around ourselves. Our minds are too flawed and selfish to be allowed to pursue whatever they want. Instead, we must train our attention with the help of various tools to make sure we’re focusing on the right things.

I’ll talk about three types of tools in this section: website blockers, app blockers, and power outlet timers.

Website blockers
Key to implementing the Attention Diet is installing site blockers on your devices. There are dozens of apps, but here I’ll review a few of the best ones that I’ve used.
Cold Turkey (MacOS/Windows). My favorite app. Probably the most robust with the most features. You can block websites, specific pages, applications, and even specific Google searches.

I love it because it has a scheduler, so you can modify what gets blocked on which days. Let’s say you want Friday afternoon to be your “email” afternoon — you can program that in. Or you can open up everything on Sundays. It’s highly customizable.

Focus (MacOS): More user-friendly than Cold Turkey, but without as many features. Focus saved my ass when I was writing my latest book. When I was on deadline, I got so desperate that I downloaded it and basically blocked everything in my life six days a week for about a month.

Freedom (MacOS/Windows): Beautifully designed and easy to use. Also works on your mobile devices. This is probably the most popular app in this category. The reason I stopped using it is that it’s too easy to get around. Hate to say it, but I can’t be trusted with weak-ass apps that let you close them or turn them off in a bunch of sneaky ways. I need an app that leaves me handcuffed with my work.

Self Control (MacOS): Free and probably the most hardcore app on the list. You load up a list of sites, turn it on, and then you’re stuck. Nothing you do can turn it off until the time runs out. You can restart your computer, uninstall the app, do anything, and it won’t unblock you. It’s evil… in the best way possible.

Phone blockers
First, before we get into blocking specific apps or the entire phone, you should go into your settings and disable most/all of your notifications. I don’t care who you are or what you do or what fucking horse you rode in on, notifications are like the secondhand smoke of attention — they give everyone a coughing fit.
Disable both the sound/vibration and the little red circles. You know those circles are red for a reason, right? We unconsciously see them as being urgent and they encourage compulsive clicking to get rid of them.
Once you’ve done that, let’s talk about limiting our app use.

iPhone users have it the easiest, as Apple has started implementing features to let you temporarily block apps from yourself. You can find a guide for how to do it here.

Google’s Digital Wellbeing app for Android accomplishes the same thing, although without as many options as Apple. One thing I do like about Digital Wellbeing is you can set a bedtime for yourself: At that time every night, your phone becomes unusable. But if you want to customize how and when you can use certain apps, you have to download a third-party app. There are a lot of options, but the best one from what I can tell is aptly called “Help Me Focus.” It has the flexibility to block some apps and not others, and it lets you customize when you block throughout the week.

Outlet timers
Okay, this tip is only for those who want to get hardcore (and those who have kids). This idea comes courtesy of my buddy Nir Eyal. When I heard him describe it, I was like, “Damn dude… that’s some next-level shit.”

For about $12 each, you can buy timers for your power outlets. You can then program them to cut off power to whatever is plugged into them at certain times of the day or week. Buy a few of them and put them around the house and you can customize what hours of the day or week your Wi-Fi router works, when your television is usable, when your video game systems will function, and so on.

Ideally, you’ll be so occupied with work and productive stuff during the day that in the evenings, you won’t have to resort to controlling yourself this way. But hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.
I have a tendency to get sucked into video games. I’ve been pretty good about it the past year. But the next time I find myself playing until four in the morning every night, I know this is exactly what I’m going to be using.

Common Objections to the Attention Diet

Objection 1: “But Mark! I’ll be soooo boooreeed.”
I have two responses to this: A) Shut up. And B) no, you won’t.
Remember when you were a kid and you’d lay around on the floor, flailing around, complaining to your mom, “But mooooommm, I’m booooooreeed” and your mom would just kinda shrug and be like, “Well, that’s your problem.”
Usually, the greatest part about being a kid came out of those moments. You’d imagine the sofa as a spaceship and plot how you were going to escape to the backdoor without the evil aliens (in this case, mom) seeing you. Or you’d imagine fantastic creatures and get excited to go draw them. Or you’d wander around outside until you found other bored kids to play with.

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Well, boredom is the father. Every great burst of creativity or action is inseminated with the wiles of boredom. Boredom will fuck your brain until it comes up with something awesome to do. Without realizing it, the constant stimulation of our phones and social media and video games and Netflix series have robbed us of the creative energies of our own boredom. They have stymied our relationships and desires for community — I mean, why go hang out with the neighbors when you can just binge-watch Sex in the City for the eighth time?

Boredom is good. It means you’re challenging yourself. It’s like bicep curls for your mind.

Objection 2: What if I’m missing out!?
I have written in-depth about the experience of FOMO (or, “fear of missing out”) before, but I’ll say it here again, briefly: You are always missing out. You always were and always will be. The question is: What is it that you are choosing to miss out on?
Most of your life, you didn’t care that you were missing out because you either weren’t aware that you were missing out or you were missing out on things you knew didn’t matter to you. Social media fucks up both of those — it makes you aware of everything, and it also gives you the false perception that things are way more important than they are. The result: constant FOMO.

Eliminate the bullshit social media use and the perception that the things you’re not doing are important and boom, you no longer feel like you’re “missing out” on anything. Ninety percent of the most important experiences in life are right in front of you. And instead of distracting yourself from them, as you have been, the Attention Diet will finally free you to face them.

Objection 3: I should be able to discipline myself to stop using these things.
I’m surprised at how many people say this. It’s a noble intention but unfortunately, completely misguided.

Imagine someone whose goal is to be healthier stocking their fridge with cake, ice cream, and frozen pizzas, and then saying, “It’s okay, I should be able to use my willpower to not eat these things.”
That’s insanity. We are weak creatures. We cave easily. We are totally unaware of our own reasoning and often slaves to our whims. If you’re trying to develop a habit of waking up at 6 a.m., you set an alarm every morning (or maybe two). If you’re trying to develop a habit of calling your parents more often, you put Post-its in your office or add events on your calendar. The dirty little secret of changing your habits is that your environment has far more of an effect than your willpower does.

Before I wrap up, I want to give a shout out to Cal Newport and Nir Eyal. They are leading the 21st-century charge on treating our mental nutrition seriously. Cal published Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World and Nir wrote Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.
Now, come on.

Let’s get our shit together… together.

Article by Benna Crawford



It’s probably safe to surmise that sitting in front of a screen all day at work and in front of the TV all night isn’t doing much for your physical health or self-image. A sedentary lifestyle does little to raise your fitness level, your energy, your self-confidence or your general sense of well-being.

But looking good, feeling strong and having a positive attitude — the attributes of self-esteem — are all benefits of a regular exercise regime.

Feelin’ Good and Showing It

Regular exercise often leads to an improved body image, makes your heart and bones stronger, lowers your risk for chronic disease right along with your blood pressure, keeps your weight under control and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. While you’re boosting your energy levels, oxygen capacity, muscle tone and general fitness, a side benefit is an increase in self-esteem. Just the success of creating an exercise plan and sticking to it allows you to enjoy a sense of achievement.

Getting a move on is good for your body and mind. The Cleveland Clinic suggests exercising for 20 to 30 minutes every day, picking an activity you enjoy so you’ll stick with it, varying what you do to ward off boredom, and mixing classes, sports and exercise with friends, and individual workouts to keep things interesting, keep pounds off and keep your confidence high.

Better Body Image

Society is obsessed with body image and, for many people, how they look has a direct bearing on self-esteem. ACE Fitness notes that exercising as little as two days a week can make you happier and less prone to stress. Regular exercise, with an emphasis on aerobic exercise, can have a positive effect on self-esteem — especially for those who suffer from low self-esteem — as fitness and appearance improve.

There is no proven formula for how much or how often to exercise to affect self-esteem but it seems logical to follow the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which recommends an allover approach to fitness: cardio, strength training and flexibility-building disciplines such as yoga. Exercise 150 to 300 minutes a week at a moderately-intense level for an all-over feeling of well-being.

More Isn’t Always Better

Thirty minutes of moderate aerobic exercise is enough to release the beta-endorphins that increase feelings of well-being, and to lower levels of cortisol, the hormone associated with stress and anxiety according to Mayo Clinic. High-intensity exercise does not always decrease stress and anxiety and, in the context of challenge and competition, can increase anxiety in some cases.

The psychological benefits of physical activity last longer after moderate exercise than after high-intensity exercise. However, research into the mood effects of high-intensity exercise is less prevalent than other research. For an experienced exerciser in a noncompetitive situation, one can leave open the possibility that mastering intervals of high-intensity exercise can add to the sense of accomplishment.

Om and Zen

Yoga, meditation, tai chi and qigong decrease tension, anxiety, depression and anger and improve psychological functioning. A yoga practice lowers levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, says Psychology Today, and helps to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, insulin resistance and the “food-seeking behavior” inspired by stress that leads to weight gain and added abdominal fat.

Meditation stimulates the prefrontal cortex that controls happiness levels and healthy immune function. Sit on a cushion and focus on your breathing, stretch up into a backbend, even chill in Corpse or Child pose, and you calm down, release tension, and improve coordination, quick reactions, IQ and memory. You’ll also sleep better and regulate your emotions, leading to more effective social interactions and a positive self-image.

Excerpt of an article by Mark Manson.



Chances are, at some point in your life, you’ve tried to change your behavior through sheer willpower. And chances are, you also failed miserably. Don’t feel bad! This is what happens most of the time.

Most people think of self-discipline in terms of willpower. If we see someone who wakes up at 5 AM every day, eats an avocado-chia-fennel-apricot-papaya smoothie each meal, snorts brussel sprout flakes, and works out for three hours before even wiping their ass in the morning, we assume they’re achieving this through straight-up self-abuse—that there is some insatiable inner demon driving them like a slave to do everything right, no matter what.

But this isn’t true. Because, if you actually know anybody like this, you’ll notice something really frightening about them: they actually enjoy it.6

Seeing self-discipline in terms of pure willpower fails because beating ourselves up for not trying hard enough doesn’t work. In fact, it backfires. And, as anyone who has ever tried to go on a diet will tell you, it usually only makes it worse.

The problem is that willpower works like a muscle. If you work it too hard, it becomes fatigued and gives out. The first week committing to a new diet, or a new workout regimen, or a new morning routine, things go great. But by the second or third week, you’re back to your old late-night, cheeto-loving ways.7

To have a chance at success, your willpower must be trained steadily over a long period of time.8

Viewing self-discipline in terms of willpower creates a paradox for the simple reason that it’s not true. As we’ll see, building self-discipline in your own life is a completely different exercise.

Why Relying on Pure Willpower Doesn’t Work

Our behaviors are not based on logic or ideas. Logic and ideas can influence our decisions, but ultimately, our feelings determine what we do.9

We do what feels good and avoid what feels bad. And the only way we can ever NOT do what feels good, and do what feels bad instead, is through a temporary boost of willpower—to deny ourselves our desires and feelings and instead do what was “right.”

Throughout history, virtue was seen in terms of this sort of self-denial and self-negation.10 To be a good person, you not only had to deny yourself any pleasure, but you also had to show your willingness to hurt yourself.

This classical approach is where our assumption that “willpower = self-discipline” originally comes from. It operates on the belief that self-discipline is achieved through denying or rejecting one’s emotions. The classical approach fused the concept of willpower—i.e., the ability to deny or reject one’s desires and emotions—with morality. Someone who can say no to the taco is a good person. The person who can’t is a failure of a human being.

THE CLASSICAL APPROACH TO SELF-DISCIPLINE

Self-Discipline = Willpower = Self-Denial = Good Person

This fusion of willpower and morality had good intentions. It recognized (correctly) that, when left to our own instinctive desires, we all become narcissistic assholes. So the great religious leaders and philosophers and kings throughout history preached a concept of virtue that involved suppressing our feelings in favor of rationality and denying our impulses in favor of developing willpower.

And the classic approach works! …kind of. Well, okay, while it makes for a more stable society, it also totally fucks us up individually.

The classic approach has the paradoxical effect of training us to feel bad about all the things that make us feel good. It basically seeks to teach us self-discipline through shaming us—by making us hate ourselves for simply being who we are. And the idea is that once we are saddled with a sufficient amount of shame about all the things that give us pleasure, we’ll be so self-loathing and terrified of our own desires that we’ll just fall in line and do what we’re told.

In Case You Didn’t Know: Shame Fucks You Up

Disciplining people through shame works for a while, but in the long run, it backfires. As an example, let’s use perhaps the most common source of shame on the planet: sex.

The brain likes sex. That’s because a) sex feels awesome, and b) we’re biologically evolved to crave it. Pretty self-explanatory.11

Now, if you grew up like most people—and especially if you’re a woman—there’s a good chance that you were taught that sex was this evil, lecherous thing that corrupts you and makes you a horrible, icky person. You were punished for wanting it, and therefore, have a lot of conflicted feelings around sex: it sounds amazing but is also scary; it feels right but also somehow so, so wrong. As a result, you still want sex, but you also drag around a lot of guilt and anxiety and doubt about yourself for wanting it.

This mixture of feelings generates an unpleasant tension within a person. And as time goes on, that tension grows. Because the desire for sex never goes away. And as the desire continues, the shame grows.

Eventually, this tension becomes unbearable and must resolve itself in one of two ways.

The first option is to overindulge.  Hooker orgies. Compulsive masturbation for days on end. Rampant infidelity. But indulgence doesn’t really resolve the tension.

So, if indulgence doesn’t work, what about the other option?

Well, the only other option to escape that internal tension is to numb it. To distract oneself from the tension by finding some larger, more palatable tension. Alcohol is a common one.13 Partying and drugs, of course.14 Watching 14 hours of television each day can be another option. Or just eating yourself half to death.15

Sometimes, people do find productive ways to distract themselves from their shame. They run ultra-marathons or work 100-hour work weeks for years on end. These are, ironically, many of the people we come to admire for having inhuman willpower. But self-denial comes easy when, deep down, you fucking hate yourself.

Because shame can’t be numbed away. It just changes form.16 The person who exercises religiously to escape their self-loathing will eventually find ways to loathe themselves for their exercise habits. And soon, what started out as a remarkable work ethic in the gym morphs into some form of body dysmorphia, like those guys who inject Synthol into their arms to make themselves look like Popeye.

Self-Discipline Through Self-Acceptance

Step one to self-discipline is to de-link your personal failings from moral failings. You have to accept that you cave to indulgence and that this doesn’t necessarily make you a horrible person. We all cave to indulgence in some shape or form. We all harbor shame. We all fail to reign in our impulses.

Here’s the thing: there’s a sick sort of comfort that comes from these self-judgments. That’s because they relieve us of the responsibility for our own actions.  It implies that there’s nothing I can do about my cravings or compulsions, so fuck it, why try?

There’s a kind of fear and anxiety that comes when we relinquish our belief in our own horribleness. We actually resist accepting ourselves because the responsibility is scary. Because it suggests that not only are we capable of change in the future (and change is always scary) but that we have perhaps wasted much of our past. And that never feels good either.

But, once we’ve de-coupled our emotions from our moral judgments—once we’ve decided that just because something makes us feel bad doesn’t mean we are bad—this opens us up to some new perspectives.

For one, it suggests that emotions are merely internal behavioral mechanisms that can be manipulated like anything else.

We must address the emotional problem the compulsion is trying to numb or cover up. You compulsively eat tubs of ice cream each week. Why? Well, eating—especially sugary, unhealthy food—is a form of numbing. It brings the body comfort. It’s sometimes known as “emotional eating” and the same way an alcoholic drinks to escape her demons, the overeater eats to escape his.

So, what are those demons? What is that shame?

Find it. Address it. And most importantly: accept it. Find that deep, dark ugly part of yourself. Confront it, head on, allowing yourself to feel all the awful, icky emotions that come with it. Then accept that this is a part of you and it’s never going away. And that’s fine. You can work with this, rather than against it.

And here’s where the magic happens. When you stop feeling awful about yourself, two things happen:

  1. There’s nothing to numb anymore. Therefore, suddenly those tubs of ice cream seem pointless.
  2. You see no reason to punish yourself. On the contrary, you like yourself, so you want to take care of yourself. More importantly, it feels good to take care of yourself.

And, incredibly, that tub of ice cream no longer feels good. It’s no longer scratching some internal itch.

Similarly, exercising no longer feels like this impossible task that you’ll never be up for. On the contrary, it replenishes and enhances you. And those good feelings start showing up that make it feel effortless.

Result: Self-Discipline Without Willpower

Once you resolve much of your shame, and once you’ve created situations to provide greater emotional benefits from doing the desired behavior than not doing it, what you end up with is the appearance of airtight self-discipline, without actually putting forth any effort. You end up with discipline without willpower.

You wake up early because it feels good to wake up early.

You eat kale instead of smoking crack because it feels good to eat the kale and feels bad to smoke crack.

You stop lying because it feels worse to lie than to say an important truth.

You exercise because it feels better to exercise than it does to sit around, covering yourself in a thin layer of Cheeto dust.

It’s not that the pain goes away. No, the pain is still there. It’s just that the pain now has meaning. It has purpose. And that makes all the difference. You work with the pain rather than against it. You pursue it rather than run from it. And with every pursuit, you get stronger and healthier and happier.

And eventually, from the outside, it will look as though you’re putting forth monumental effort, that you have this endless reservoir of willpower. Yet, to you, it will feel like nothing at all.

Article by Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D.




The secret of success is to be ready when your opportunity comes.” –Benjamin Disraeli

Opportunities to achieve what you want in life are coming to you more often than you realize. The reason those opportunities don’t always turn into the experiences you hoped for often has to do with whether or not you are ready for them. Most people live ready for what they expect in life, not what they want. You might want a better job or a new relationship but if you don’t really expect to get one, then it is likely you won’t put forth the effort to make it happen. For example, if you want a great partner but never expect to meet anyone, then chances are that half the time when you leave the house, you never think twice about what you look like. If, however, you expected to meet your great new partner any moment, you would probably pay more attention to your appearance even when just going out for a gallon of milk. If you felt great about yourself every time you left the house, you would be more likely to give off great energy and also more likely to talk to others, which would greatly increase the chances of meeting someone. Expectation leads to action, which creates experience.

People often make the mistake of believing that if the good things in their lives would just show up, then they could be happy, and everything would change. If I had a job, I would have a reason to stop watching TV all day. The problem with this line of thinking is that if you are sitting on the couch all day, the job you want will never show up. We get things in life that we “match up” with. While there are always exceptions to the rule, most people who have great jobs showed up ready for the job. It is likely he/she worked hard, identified the skills that were needed, gained experience, built their resumes, polished their interview skills, paid careful attention to how they were being perceived, and gave the potential employer exactly what they were looking for. It didn’t just happen; they weren’t just lucky. They wanted it and were ready for the opportunity when it arrived.

So how can you learn to be more prepared for the opportunities that are coming your way?

1. Be clear about what you want.

When you don’t really know what you want it is hard to know when an opportunity for something better has arrived. Clarity gives you focus and direction, vagueness is like driving around in a dark cloud with no idea where you are going. Finding your clarity starts with tuning in to your emotions. A lack of clarity often comes from not trusting your own feelings. When you are weighing various options in your mind, ask yourself how one option compares to the other in terms of your emotions. If an option feels interesting and exciting then do some homework and find out more about it, as you gather information about that option see if your enthusiasm grows or diminishes.

If you are really stuck sometimes it helps to first identify what you don’t want in a certain situation. For example, if you don’t know what type of job you are interested in looking for, it can be helpful to fold a sheet of paper in half lengthwise and then write down everything you don’t want in a job on one side. Then open the paper and next to every item you don’t want, write down what it is you would like instead. If you don’t want to work a rigid 9-5 M-F work schedule, perhaps what you really want is a job with a lot of flexibility. Once you are done with writing out the inverse of what it is you don’t want, you should have a nice long list of what it is you do want on the subject. Use this to begin to build clarity. What kind of jobs might fit these criteria? If the answer is–not many, then identify which areas you are willing to be flexible on and which areas are absolute must haves. When you are clear about what you are looking for, it creates a selective filter that causes you to see more opportunities that match and to disregard other opportunities that are really just distractions.

2. Know what steps are necessary to achieve it.

This step is often a stumbling block for many people. They know what they want but they don’t know what to do to achieve it, so they don’t try. Identifying the necessary steps is a key part of the process that may require investigating, studying, and learning lots of new information. Luckily, we live in an age where information is readily accessible, we just have to be willing to put forth the effort to figure it out. Google is your best friend when you don’t know how to do something. If you are stuck, start there. Look for books, websites, classes, organizations, or people who might be able to provide you with information. If you’d like to start a new business, there are many groups and organizations that support first time entrepreneurs. They often offer mentorship to help guide newcomers through the process. The knowledge is out there but you have to be willing to look for it and ask for help. Doing this creates opportunities by engaging with others, and it increases your positive expectations about your ability to achieve what you want because you have the knowledge to create an action plan.
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3. Behave as if what you want is about to show up.

Now that you know what you want and how to accomplish it, the most important part is to act as if what you want is coming at any moment. There are two huge benefits to living ready for what you want. First, when you live as if what you want is coming, your belief that it will occur starts to grow very rapidly and you start to engage in more and more actions likely to make it happen. This leads to the second benefit, which is that when an opportunity shows up, because you have been in action mode, you are ready to take advantage of it. To start this process, take your list from step number two and just start doing. If you want to start a business but are worried about not having any customers, you can’t wait until you have customers to get started. You have to build the business and create the services that you will be ready to deliver on when your first customers show up.

The thought that trips many people up on this step is–What if it’s not worth the effort? To conserve energy and resources people are inherently programmed to not want to take action unless there is some return on the investment. What if I build my business and no customers show up? What if I fail? Won’t that be a total waste of my time, money, and energy? Worrying about what you don’t want can stop you from taking action toward what you do want. Instead, focus your energy on how to make what you do want happen. Know that if it doesn’t work out, you don’t have to globalize the failure to mean that you will never succeed, or personalize it to mean that you don’t deserve to succeed. By taking the action you create the opportunity to learn something new and isn’t that the most important opportunity you can take advantage of?

References

1. Jennice Vilhauer. 2014. Think Forward to Thrive: How to Use The Mind’s Power of Anticipation to Transcend Your Past and Transform Your Life. New World Library. Novato, CA

Article by Raj




Living a successful life is everyone’s dream but there are no signs that say you’re following the right path but wait, we can help. Today, we’re going to tell you if you’re on the right path and if you’ve achieved these 7 signs it means that you’re successful in life.

1. You’ve Learned To Forgive


Holding onto grudges may feel good at first, but eventually, that anger and resentment begin to eat away at us. If you’ve learned the (sometimes complicated) art of forgiveness, then your life has become more and more successful each day that you live free of that anger.

Forgiving people is more about allowing yourself to heal rather than letting someone off the hook. You’ll find that your mind and body are more at peace once you learn to forgive.

2. You’re Still Alive And Healthy

This is one of the most important signs of success. Life can be full of so many twists and turns, ups, and downs – if you’ve ever struggled with low points in your life or depressive episodes, you probably have realized how hard it is to keep pushing forward. But if you’ve made it out of every low point and you’re still alive, then that is definitely a cause for celebration. Congratulations – you’re a success.

3. You Can Be Yourself

No matter who that happens to be, if you’re in a place mentally and physically where you can be yourself and express yourself how you want, then you’ve reached a place of success that few others can achieve. Sure, there are people with thousands upon thousands of dollars, but they’re often stuck and unable to express themselves how they truly wish and inspire no one to be true to themselves. If you’ve made it this far in your journey to success, then you’re doing amazing.

4. You Haven’t Given Up On Your Dreams

Even if you haven’t achieved them yet, you’re still making plans and moving forward with trying to reach your goals. Success isn’t always measured in whether or not you’ve met all your life goals – sometimes, it just means having them in the first place, and refusing to give up. As long as you’ve always had a dream, and you keep moving forward and taking chances and steps to achieve it, you’re doing great.

5. Someone Loves You

Whether this person is your family, a friend, or your lover, having someone who cares about you and loves you is an important way to measure success. Life can get lonely, and it’s always better when you’re sharing all the ups and downs with someone who cares about you. A love that is unconditional and unyielding is one way to measure your success, and if you’ve found it, then you’re on the right track.

6. You Have Home And Clothes

It’s time to take a step back and look around you. If you have a home and a roof over your head as well as clothes on your back, then I would say that you’re doing pretty good. Regardless of all the other things going on around you, if you’ve managed to cultivate a home for yourself and keep yourself dressed and fed, then any other measurements of success don’t really matter. You’re doing great.

7. You Keep Improving Despite All The Obstacles

Sometimes, people feel like they’ve reached their peak and there’s no reason to keep moving forward and learning more and improving themselves as a person. Even if you’ve failed a few times in your life, you’re still a success if you learn from those failures and mistakes and use them to keep improving yourself every day. It doesn’t matter if you’ve failed ten times or one hundred – as long as each failure is met with an attempt to better yourself.

Extracts of an Article by Kevin Kelly




We are building a 1-to-1 map of almost unimaginable scope. When it’s complete, our physical reality will merge with the digital universe.

The mirrorworld doesn’t yet fully exist, but it is coming. Someday soon, every place and thing in the real world—every street, lamppost, building, and room—will have its full-size digital twin in the mirrorworld. For now, only tiny patches of the mirrorworld are visible through AR headsets. Piece by piece, these virtual fragments are being stitched together to form a shared, persistent place that will parallel the real world.

It is already under construction. Deep in the research labs of tech companies around the world, scientists and engineers are racing to construct virtual places that overlay actual places. Crucially, these emerging digital landscapes will feel real; they’ll exhibit what landscape architects call place­ness. The Street View images in Google Maps are just facades, flat images hinged together. But in the mirrorworld, a virtual building will have volume, a virtual chair will exhibit chairness, and a virtual street will have layers of textures, gaps, and intrusions that all convey a sense of “street.”

At first, the mirrorworld will appear to us as a high-resolution stratum of information overlaying the real world. We might see a virtual name tag hovering in front of people we previously met. Perhaps a blue arrow showing us the right place to turn a corner. Or helpful annotations anchored to places of interest. (Unlike the dark, closed goggles of VR, AR glasses use see-through technology to insert virtual apparitions into the real world.)

Eventually we’ll be able to search physical space as we might search a text—“find me all the places where a park bench faces sunrise along a river.” We will hyperlink objects into a network of the physical, just as the web hyperlinked words, producing marvelous benefits and new products.





The first big technology platform was the web, which digitized information, subjecting knowledge to the power of algorithms; it came to be dominated by Google. The second great platform was social media, running primarily on mobile phones. It digitized people and subjected human behavior and relationships to the power of algorithms, and it is ruled by Facebook and WeChat.

We are now at the dawn of the third platform, which will digitize the rest of the world. On this platform, all things and places will be machine-­readable, subject to the power of algorithms.

Microsoft has been producing its HoloLens AR devices since 2016. The HoloLens is a see-through visor mounted to a head strap. Once turned on and booted up, the HoloLens maps the room you’re in. You then use your hands to maneuver menus floating in front of you, choosing which apps or experiences to load. One choice is to hang virtual screens—as in laptop or TV screens—in front of you.

In 2018 the US Army announced it was purchasing up to 100,000 upgraded models of the HoloLens headsets for a very nondesk job: to stay one step ahead of enemies on the battlefield and “increase lethality.”

For the mirrorworld to come fully online, we don’t just need everything to have a digital twin; we also need to build a 3D model of physical reality in which to place those twins. Consumers will largely do this themselves: When someone gazes at a scene through a device, particularly wearable glasses, tiny embedded cameras looking out will map what they see. The cameras only capture sheets of pixels, which don’t mean much. But artificial intelligence—embedded in the device, in the cloud, or both—will make sense of those pixels; it will pinpoint where you are in a place, at the very same time that it’s assessing what is in that place. The technical term for this is SLAM—simultaneous localization and mapping—and it’s happening now.

In the mirrorworld, objects will exist in relation to other things. Digital windows will exist in the context of a digital wall. Rather than connections generated by chips and bandwidth, the connections will be contextual, generated by AIs. The mirror­world, then, also creates the long-heralded internet of things.

Augmented reality is the technology underpinning the mirrorworld; it is the awkward newborn that will grow into a giant.

The full blossoming of the mirrorworld is waiting for cheap, always-on wearable glasses. Speculation has been rising that one of the largest tech companies may be developing just such a product. Apple has been on an AR hiring spree and recently acquired a startup called Akonia Holographics that specializes in thin, transparent “smart glass” lenses. But you don’t need to use AR glasses; you can engage using almost any kind of device.

Everything connected to the internet will be connected to the mirrorworld. And anything connected to the mirrorworld will see and be seen by everything else in this interconnected environment.

New technologies bestow new superpowers. We gained super speed with jet planes, super healing powers with antibiotics, super hearing with the radio. The mirrorworld promises super vision. We’ll have a type of x-ray vision able to see into objects via their virtual ghosts, exploding them into constituent parts, able to untangle their circuits visually. A properly educated person will be able to create a 3D image inside of a 3D landscape nearly as fast as one can type today. They will know how to search all videos ever made for the visual idea they have in their head, without needing words. The complexities of color and the rules of perspective will be commonly understood, like the rules of grammar. It will be the Photonic Era.



Like the web and social media before it, the mirror­world will unfold and grow, producing unintended problems and unexpected benefits. The emergence of the mirrorworld will affect us all at a deeply personal level. We know there will be severe physiological and psychological effects of dwelling in dual worlds. The great paradox is that the only way to understand how AR works is to build AR and test ourselves in it. It’s weirdly recursive: The technology itself is the microscope needed to inspect the effects of the technology.

Many of the risks of the mirrorworld are easy to imagine, because they are the same ones we see on current platforms. The mirrorworld will raise major privacy concerns. It will, after all, contain a billion eyes glancing at every point, converging into one continuous view. The mirrorworld will create so much data, big data, from its legions of eyes and other sensors, that we can’t imagine its scale right now. To make this spatial realm work—to synchronize the virtual twins of all places and all things with the real places and things, while rendering it visible to millions—will require tracking people and things to a degree that can only be called a total surveillance state. We reflexively recoil at the specter of such big data. We can imagine so many ways it might hurt us.

But we already have some experience that can inform our approach to the mirrorworld. Good practices include mandatory transparency and accountability for any party that touches the data; symmetry in the flow of information, so that the watchers are themselves watched; and the insistence that data creators—you and me—receive clear benefits, including monetary ones, from the system.

I imagine it will take at least a decade for the mirrorworld to develop enough to be used by millions, and several decades to mature. But we are close enough now to the birth of this great work that we can predict its character in rough detail.

Eventually this melded world will be the size of our planet. It will be humanity’s greatest achievement, creating new levels of wealth, new social problems, and uncountable opportunities for billions of people. There are no experts yet to make this world; you are not late.

Kevin Kelly (kk@kk.org) was WIRED’s founding executive editor. He’s the author of The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future and many other books, including What Technology Wants; New Rules for the New Economy; and Out Of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World.

The full article appears in Wired. Subscribe now.

Article by Geo News




A former Israeli space security chief has shocked everyone by saying that human beings are in contact with aliens from a “galactic federation,” adding that US President Donald Trump is aware of it.

According to a report by NBC News, Haim Eshed, a former head of Israel’s Defense Ministry’s space directorate, told a local newspaper last Friday that Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) have asked earthlings not to reveal they are here because “humanity is not ready yet.”

Eshed, who is a respected professor and retired general, added that aliens are curious about human beings.

Eshed said the US government has signed a “cooperation agreement with the aliens.” He went on to say that there is an “underground base in the depths of planet Mars”, where extraterrestrial creatures and American astronauts work together.

“President Donald Trump was aware of the extraterrestrials’ existence and had been on the verge of revealing information but was asked not to in order to prevent mass hysteria,” Eshed said.

NBC News tried reaching out to Israeli and US government officials for a comment, but did not get an immediate response.

Later, Sue Gough, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, refused to comment.