I was cleaning up the page of things you can do and noticed I don’t have anything in the counterintuitive area.
Two came to mind from the book I’ve got on the go The Plateau Effect
1 - Active listening with the intent to agree, rather than waiting for a chance to get your point across.
Most people want to pick apart other people’s arguments to discredit them, or maybe not even listen and just wait for their chance to speak.
Active listening with the intent to agree puts you in a much better position to come to a conclusion everyone agrees on. You can still pick apart their argument, but in this scenario you’re picking it apart to see what parts align with your thinking. You have to see where the common ground is. Then when you find something you don’t agree on you try to understand why the other person thinks that way. You could be right, they could be right, and sometimes you could both be right. It’s like the proverb about 3 blind people encountering an elephant for the first time and all describing it to each other while standing at different spots around it. They’re going to be describing wildly different things, but they are all correct.
From a persuasion point of view you are in a much better position to pursued when you start off on the same team as the other person, highlighting all of the things you agree on. Think about it, are you more likely to listen to the advice of something similar to you or to the advice of someone you associate with ‘the other team’.
2 - Don’t focus on specific goals, it can mess with your head.
In the Plateau Effect they gave examples of runners who were so focused on the goal of having a long streak of consecutive days running that they ran when injured, making their injuries worse, and ran at the sacrifice of maintaining relationships with friends and family. These people started out running to be healthy and then the goal of the streak took over and they did the opposite.
In the Willpower Instinct, she says having a goal gives your autopilot mind a specific target which it can use against your best interest. If you are doing well it can rationalize a break, and if you are doing poorly it can rationalize giving up. She suggest you’re better to monitor your level of commitment and hold it in higher regard than progress. If you feel the commitment wavering you can spend some time remembering why it’s important. If you realize it’s not important you can give up and pick a goal that is important, guilt free.
Many other people like Dilbert author Scott Adams advocates for systems rather than goals. The idea is you build your day around doing things that will get you closer to your goal. Such as write so many pages or save so many dollars. When you do this it’s not that big of a deal when you falter, your next day is already set up to get you back on track.
All of these are complementary, the first one says don’t focus on running everyday, but the last one suggests you should schedule running everyday if that is in line with your goal. The takeaway is that this is a balancing act, with meaning as the foundation.
Start by having a compelling reason to change something, then build systems into your life to set you up for success to set you on the path to your goal but keep it flexible. Monitor progress, change things as needed, try to avoid relying on things that feel like obligations, but more important than the numbers and data check in with yourself on how committed you are to this future state and why in order to make sure you haven’t let the goal take you off track.
It seems like addictions are in the news these days a lot. The statistics around Opioids alone are startling. I don't think I know anyone addicted to them but it seems like statistically we all probably do. I know a few people that took OxyContin after surgery and luckily they didn't get addicted.
In terms of what you can you
1) If they are prescribed to you I'd ask if there is an alternative
2) Michael Botticelli former Director of the USA's National Drug Control Policy recommends talking about it more. If you need help, ask for it, if someone asks for help don't think less of them, provide them help like you would to someone with a broken leg, addiction is a disease.
3) Change the words you use:
Excerpt from Times Colonist article by Sarah Petrescu
Some of the suggestions are using terms such as “person with a cocaine-use disorder” instead of “cocaine user” or “addict.” Others include referring to a person having an “addictive disease” or “substance-use disorder” rather saying they are a drug “abuser” or “junkie.”
Counterintuitive things you should know:
1) Our whole mental model of what causes additions is not quite right, check out the first video below. I put it at the top because out of all of these because our mental model dictates so much of this problem, and most of us are walking around with on that's not backed up by science. By knowing this we can see there are more factors to addiction than just the drugs, and how big a factor the stigma around addiction can compound the problem. Link to the article where I found it.
2) Criminalizing drugs has not been as effective as decriminalizing them. Portugal is the first country I heard of that decriminalized all drugs put their resources into helping and they've seen an amazing turn around. Check out the clip from Michael Moore's documentary
Here is Michael's TED Talk - Addiction is a Disease
Here is John Oliver's take on Opioids
And here is a terrifying article outlining the plans to spread the epidemic beyond North America to the rest of the world. This reminds me of Stephen Hawking's quote that "we should be more afraid of capitalism than robots". I'm not against capitalism, just based on my cursory look into this it seems like a huge risk of human suffering is being taken for the sake of making money.
OxyContin Goes Global - We're Only Just Getting Started
I don't know what to do to stop this, any suggestions?
I love the parable of the blind men and the elephant. A number of them encounter an elephant they each reach out and touch one part of it and argue over what they think it looks like until they realize they are all right. I think this applies throughout our lives. We often disagree with others but we are often both right, or at least have good reasons for backing up our opinions. I also think it applies to advice, we all get a lot of advice and I think it is all valuable, but it is often only one part of the elephant, so I'd like to systematically review advice and add to my picture of the elephant that it is. Today I'll look at the advice from a TEDTalk on time management.
Laura Vanderkam - How to gain control of your free time
What she says:
- Many people try to shave off time here and there to fit in more things (i.e. fast forward commercials)
- She doesn't think striving to shave time is the right approach, she thinks we should choose what's important and having the time will take care of itself. She gives the example of someone with a busy lifestyle that has a flood at their house. Resolving it takes 7 hours out of the persons week. She many people don't think they could find 7 hours a week to exercise or meditate or whatever, but when you have to you just do.
- Her big take away is when we say "I don't have time" we are saying "It's not a priority"
- How do we realign our priorities?
- For work pretend it's the end of the year and write up your ideal performance review, listing all the things you accomplished.
- At home pretend it's the end of the year and write up your ideal Christmas letter, saying all the great things you did this year.
- From these future write ups get 6-10 goals for your year
- Break them down into manageable tasks
- Week by week take some time to plan out your goals for the next week. She recommends doing it on Friday afternoon when you're a bit drained from the week but willing to assign tasks to your future self for next week.
- She says we all get 168 hours a week, and she thinks if we look closely we'll see we've got probably 50-60 we could be using better, i.e. towards our priorities.
So, let's unpack this. She says
1) Things we already know - we make time for 'must do' activities, example, emergencies.
2) Gives us tips we won't do - write out our priorities and just do them.
This is like that email forward about the rocks and sand in a jar, do the important things first. The part about changing "I don't have time" to "It's not a priority", is I've suggested taking 'lazy' out of your vocabulary and replacing it with "It's not important enough for me to do right now"
I think Tony Robbins does a better job of this when he describes 'musts' and 'shoulds', and I think Kelly McGonigal does a great job outlining why we'd fail in The Willpower Instinct.
So overall it's nothing we haven't covered yet on the site (no new insights) but a nice reminder, it might spark your memory or finally push you to taking action. Personally, I like the specific examples of how to pull your priorities out of your brain with those year end reviews ahead of time, I might add those to the list of things you can do. I also like how she simplifies the categories down to three things Career, Relationships, Self. The goal setting program I did recently had a lot more categories and was a lot more complicated.
One great life hack I've come across to help you hold yourself to your priorities is to have a computer call you every night to ask you to rank yourself on those goals you pre-set for yourself. Below the TEDTalk is a video about it, and here is a link to a robot service that will do this for you, there's even a free two week trial. www.triggersdigital.com
I'm using it and I'm really finding it makes a difference for the little things you can overlook, those medium size rocks that can get neglected and left off your year end reviews. You know what, I'm going to put this video on top because I think you might be better off watching it that the TEDTalk, it's more focused but it's a technique that might help you with everything else.
OK here it is, my attempt at creating a user manual for your brain so you can make the most of this site. Many people are well intentioned but fail to follow through. This shows you why that is and how you can overcome it if you want. I focused on the topic of money but the principles are the same for any goal.
This is meant to be an open discussion, a goal of this site is to come up with a new mental model for why we do what we do. One that we can all use day to day to make better decisions and to get along better with each other. If you agree or disagree with any aspects let me know and let's see what we can come up with
Let me know what you think of this, it's a pretty rough cut, no editing done. I haven't even listened to it myself, I feel like if I do I will never stop tweaking it. So let me know, if the content is good or bad, if the audio is ok or not, and any way I can improve it.
1 - I highly recommend getting a copy of Tony Robbin's Get The Edge or the booklet or a transcript. His other books or programs like Unleash The Power Within may cover the same material but I haven't listened to them so I don't know for sure. From his site they are pretty expensive but on amazon they are very reasonable. I can lend you my copy if you want. He does a great job describing the way we make up rules based on experiences, and how to reset those rules. His style may not be for everyone, he's really intense but I recommend you just try to stick it out and try to get used to it. He's got a lot of great insight in behaviour.
2 - The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. This is an amazing resource for understanding your auto pilot (she calls it your 'monitor' I think). If you skip Tony Robbins don't skip this one. You can even get the audiobook forfree using my link to audible.
Others Books (don't bother with these until you've read/listened to the first two)
3. Happy Money - This outlines ways to make the most of your money.
4. Your Brain at Work - How your brain has limited bandwidth and you need to manage it as a resource. He suggests thinking of it as a stage, and thoughts as actors on the stage. You really need to stage manage, both by limiting what is in front of you and practicing mindfulness/meditation to have better control over thought selection (ignore distractions)
5. Happiness Hypothesis - a great book that outlines the tension between pilot and auto-pilot, he describes us as an elephant and a rider. I love this analogy but didn't have time to explain it in the video above.
6. Time Wars - This was the first book I read that pointed out that the most important thing in our lives is the predictions of the future we think of or that other people tell us. They dictate everything. When I read it at first I thought he was crazy, now it seems so obvious, and it seems like something everyone needs to be made aware of.
And of course Links to the previous posts
Links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
I just realized I forgot to mention mental shortcuts that the auto-pilot uses. These are called cognitive biases. Check out this short list and check out this long list.
And I forgot to mention the concept of mental junk food. Just like you watch what you eat you need to watch what you spend your time thinking about. So many companies are competing for your attention you need to watch out for this more than ever. An interesting book on the topic is Distracted, another one available on Audible.com
This recent TED talk 'What I Learned From 100 Days of Rejection' seemed like one of the most impactful and useful. I feel like his fear of rejection is quite common and what he's learned and shared could really turn people's lives around.
Check it out!!
The goal of this site is to be a resource of 'things you can do'. Not just any 'things' but if you have a goal or a cause you're concerned about you can look here for a list of things you can do.
To be the most useful I need you to send in what it is you're interested in. Either put it in the comments or send it in via the home page. Until some suggestions come in I'll help people out with their goals on Kiva.org. Today I lent $25 to a group of seamstresses in Paraguay. Kiva is amazing, you're not donating money you're just lending it to someone that really needs a small loan and they'll pay you back, then you can lend it out again. If you ever need the money back you can withdraw the money from your account once it's paid back.
Some things will be easy, some things will be counter intuitive, some things will take some dedication. Lending money on Kiva is pretty easy, if you're looking for a way to help someone trying to better their lives through hard work. But I've got one that is even easier.
Try using only one paper towel to dry your hands, that is, next time you need to use a paper towel. The trick is shake off the excess water first and fold the paper towel in half. It's amazing, you think it's not going to work, but then it does, and it really gets your hands drier than you're probably used to. Here's a video demo.
So you don't have to read through the entire blog and all of the comments to find things I'll try to use tags for these posts and I'll make pages to summarize everything. You can think of the blog as a 'what's new' section.
Eventually I hope this turns into a wiki of what you can do but for now just send me ideas you have or guest posts and I'll put them up for you.