Creating Beliefs That Serve Us Better

Our behavior is based on our beliefs. And because beliefs can be either right wrong or anything in between, oh boy it is difficult to live life right with one go.

Thankfully we do not have to be right at the first time. More importantly if we are aware of our shortcomings and remain open to dialogue, we just might find the way.

Basic representation of beliefs and truth looks like this:

 

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However, as I mentioned it’s quite not straightforward. How to know which ones are right? Well usually the surrounding culture & community helps out here: we pick beliefs that are shared by others as well. Well at least until we learn to question them.

One stepping stone to the adulthood is questioning and choosing our own values and beliefs. Some of them may be the same ones as surrounding society, however we must be ready to acid test all of them. And learning to acid test the beliefs is indeed a skill that can serve us very well.

This picture I borrow from Edron Academy, theory of knowledge blog:

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There are just all kinds of beliefs out there. Beliefs for the sake of beliefs. Some beliefs, although in the end that might be false, may serve us very well. Such is the power of optimism or other positive illusions as they keep us going, trying and doing, despite that the odds might not be in our favor.

We are the creators of our beliefs, therefore we should pick the strong sides of all beliefs the keen sense of realism, the optimism of trying and doing, open mind so that we can continue learning and unlearning.

 

How to Have More Time in the Present Moments?

 

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In time, there is only the one moment that matters: present moment. Everyone knows this and then we go about our lives normally.

I realize today that the more time & power we have in the present moment, the more we are able to accomplish in the life as a whole. Whole life comes moment by moment, the better we are at handling these sequentially occurring present moments, the more we are able to achieve.

Opportunities arise in present moment, if we are too slow to react on that we may have to wait for a long time for another opportunity. Sometimes this experience is necessary before we can recognize the opportunity, however if we are aware and open minded enough we might be able to seize it on the first try.

What could we really do to improve our odds in present moments?

What I’ve learned in the telemarketing and in sales is about the opportunities do only present themselves so many times and most of the time we actually have to work to create them. It takes, patience and long term view rather than short sighted view. Most of the sales occur after five conversations with the prospects.

To get better opportunities, we need to be constructive in the long run. In the first moments we need to learn more, ask better questions, listen more intently, observe more carefully, give more room to speak.

To manage present effectively, managing the outer things is not enough: we must be mindful of our internal world as well and align that with all our actions.

Couple of skills that are always useful in increasing the time in upcoming present moments:

  1. Memory techniques: i.e. method of loci and others can be used to remember everything that matters.
  2. Mental Math & mathematics can improve the counting skills in your head. These skills can give you serious edge in life if you can quickly simulate situations with numbers.

Finally there is the art of combining everything you know into something practical, way of communicating, telling stories and jokes in a way that will lift everyone up which will surely grant you more time than anything else I’ve said so far. People like people who like them and are funny in inclusive, non-offensive way.

Put Less Money to Poor Choices and More Money to Good Choices

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Going thru a supermarket, looking for almonds and walnuts, but cannot find those here. All kinds of other nuts sure. At a huge supermarket there is a lot of stuff. It’s quite interesting to go thru a lot of foreign foods, while also realizing we do not need that much in life.

Even with very little, few specific things, we can be very happy.

In fact buying and wanting more does not equal happiness. I even feel that sometimes saying no to the things we do not really need creates more happiness. It’s about priorities, because when we focus and prioritize those things we truly value we can cut off everything else.

My purchasing power here in Vietnam is about three times greater than in my home Finland. That being said I do not like to spend on money on things that aren’t really matching my values.

I know, that there are places where I can put the saved money that will have long term returns. My favorite investment is education, knowledge and things like that. Second form of investing which I am learning about is real-estate, which I see as a one great vehicle, a bus that I haven’t taken yet, but I am looking for opportunities. Thirdly, there is my passion to invest in business: mostly high-risk, high reward companies with small stakes.

I get great pleasure in clarifying myself what do I really need and what are the highest priorities for my money and what is the expected return. I’ve been doing this kind of thinking practice for few months now, and it has started to become my second nature. It’s much easier to do the right decision: abstain from poor choices when you know what are the better options and what is the opportunity cost for investing to this mediocre chance now versus to the good chance.

Air Pollution Experience That Set My Mind to New Dimensions

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 “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

As I travel, I like to experience the world from the grass root level, which gives me some perspective and on the other hand can change the world view and priorities quite drastically. Travel changes the way I see the people back at home as well as in the places I travel.

Power of culture is incredible: majority follow the cultural conditioning. Even those who are decisive in pursuing a purpose, end up hauling water buckets, while we should be building water pipelines.

I’ve been living as a guest in Ho Chi Minh City for a week. So far the thing that has caught my attention is air quality, which makes me to think about the millions of people here breathing the air as well as myself who suffers from the allergic reaction caused by this heavy dust.

We’ve solutions on many levels:

  1. I could get allergy medicine and lessen the symptoms.
  2. Buy or create an indoor air filter to remove some of this pollution.
  3. To create affordable and accessible clean energy sources.

First level solution I do not like much at all, I don’t feel like I am solving any problem at all, just changing the form. Besides usually the side effects in allergy medicine are for me worse than the allergy. Overall running nose is minor inconvenience.

Second option I like more. Thomas Talhem has done some AMAZING WORK on this making the affordable air filter solutions available for everyone. Check the Do-It-Yourself solution and research out: http://smartairfilters.com/

There is already existing solution that just needs to be applied more widely to make at least the indoor cleaner. When this critical part has been covered perhaps we can start to focus on the third topic?

After realizing this, now it’s very difficult for me to ignore this problem as I’ve blissfully done. Personal experience is a game changer. Now I am quite sure that the future of sustainability will not happen by itself it requires a lot of awareness, education and effort.

Therefore it seems to be likely that I’ve to start looking ways to work more with these problems that I see very meaningful, not only for me and my loved ones, but for all the people who live around the cities with limited amount of clean air.

I’ve had the privilege of living in places with very good air quality. However, no longer I do not want to put my head in the bush to think that this can go on forever. What really will happen when the big cities get completely polluted and unlivable? Who is going to clean the mess?

“Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.” — William Shakespeare

I am sure there are people like Tomas Talhem and Elon Musk doing something about it, but what about the rest? I am looking forward to hearing from you, there ought to be a lot to be done.

My Dozen Best Reading Practices

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This listing is I originally posted  as a Quora answer. However, I guess it would be interesting since there have been some rather simple adjustments I’ve made to my reading habits past year which are really effective and most of these habits have to do with attention, focus and time management rather than the reading technique.

My reading best practices:

  1. Reading while commuting & reading while queuing. I carry Kindle with me to most of the places I go.
  2. Reviewing notes/highlights.
  3. Reading books that are very interesting to me at the moment (80% nonfiction 20% fiction)
    1. I’ll have a long and short lists of books that are currently interesting. Usually the short list is very short and at the moment there is only few books to which I don’t access through Kindle.
  4. Qualifying a book before buying or starting to read it: I’ll check the descriptions, reviews and authors a bit before deciding that if it’s the right book for the right moment. I’ve found out that the most interesting books do manage to create the urge to read it, which then helps to finish the book very quickly as well.
  5. Goodreads reading goal tracker, makes it public and also a good way to manage to read lists.
  6. Breaking down the yearly reading goal into a book / daily level to keep reading. I.e. reading 10% of the book or X number of pages. Reading 10% book a day means of course that it takes ten days to finish a book which is 36,5 books a year.
  7. Summarizing the key learning from the book into a one or two things, so I can describe it to anyone shortly.
  8. Discussing about the books I’ve read and I am reading. Discussion opens up new perspectives.
  9. Reading books during weekend mornings, (I replaced my news reading habit).
  10. Researching before buying / starting to read a book.
  11. Allowing myself not to read fully all books: for studying purposes its better even just to skim and find what’s useful instead of spending the time to read the whole thing.
  12. Writing about what I’ve read: well at this point very at least I’ve to have the thing internalized somehow and it also lets me to revisit the book again.

Life Gives You More, When You Give More to Life

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“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Time is the most precious thing we have, we only have this moment. How we use each moment is the game of probabilities in the future moments: how will we fare in the upcoming moments of truth?

Through human history, what has separated us from the other species dwelling on this earth is the cultural memory: we have recorded culture, and therefore stories to tell how we got here so far. Creativity is the evolutionary advantage of our species and also a bit of requirement for our long term survival. And as a collective we can choose to create or stay passive and wither away, if we are capable in dialogue that is.

When we are too much in the mind of the collective, we may forget as even an individual can have huge impact: think of leaders, rebels, activists. Individuals can unite the masses, this shouldn’t be forgotten.

Each one of us, is individual capable of personal development, we will change, so why not to try to do it consciously? By starting to invest into ourselves, we will start to unlock higher levels of creativity.

Buddhists have serious example of creativity and even self-imposed impermanence, i.e. in the form of sand painting. That itself represents very well that the creation is worth it even if it is impermanent. I love the Buddhist thinking: we should strive for higher forms of creativity, despite the fact that everything may be destroyed in a flash. Since we are living we are a fluke of probability, so why not to see how long our luck can take us? We have to take the chance and play it for the longest run imaginable, only then we will have the chance to see the

Life requires that we give something, before achieving something. Failure is high probability, it rarely ends the game, instead the experience gained from that failure increases the odds of success in subsequent attempts. It’s because of this actual learning curve, that we all should be investing to our personal development. Only once we’ve accumulated enough experience and expertise we may start to benefit others.

Are you creating today? You may succeed right away, however it’s very unlikely. Make the probabilities yours, no make the probabilities ours, because your art has the possibility to be the game changer.

Give life the best art you are capable of and the collective human kind may evolve and live to see beauties of life and more.

Developing Higher Quantity and Quality of Ideas

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When it comes to creativity and with ideas, there is nothing special about them. There are tons of ideas out there in the world, who nobody does anything about.

You’ll recognize a great idea you actually are willing to work to make it real. The work process there is an important part, that makes the idea real. And often the end result will end up being quite different from the original idea, which magnificently shows the difference between our understanding of reality and the reality. On the other hand we also happen to learn a in the process, thus also developing the idea much further bit by bit.

Not all ideas are right away ready to be turned into a reality. Where it is easy to accept or reject an idea, and work on that, to get much more quality ideas we also could DEVELOP some of the ideas.

To make idea that is under development into reality too soon would actually be hurtful. However, idea that is under development should be revisited and reviewed preferably frequently, i.e. taken active work to make that idea viable in the future. The reason to keep developing the idea could be that either you know too little about the idea, so you in order to acid test the viability of the idea you can easily just do some more basic research online. Keep digging until you’ve great general understanding and then if the idea is worth executing schedule everything and execute.

Developing ideas should be the kind of pre-screening phase, before making any bigger commitments. It can be great way to increase the quantity of ideas you consider, quality of ideas in all phases. Why quality? Because you are learning quickly about the idea in more diverse manner and thus also creating more documented approach in the process.

Any idea can be revived later, when it’s time has come. So take your time to nurture both quantity and quality of the ideals.

Success Starts with a Choice, Repeat the Choice Daily and You Become That Choice

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When you learn to take the first step, taking the second step is just a matter of choice. Continuing the thought from yesterday with attaining the results we want from the life.

Excuses are easy way out, but once we have learned to take the first step, only thing that prevents us from taking the second is our own choice. We already know how, so then it’s merely matter of taking the steps until we reach our goals.

In theory that is, in reality there are limitations such as time and space in addition to our own beliefs and views of the reality. Here comes the big difference, about a really sensitive topic: optimism and pessimism.

As I’ve read and studied Martin Seligman’s book about Learned Optimism, I’ve also come to understand that it’s not necessarily solution to turn everyone into optimist, although there are certainly benefits when dealing with depression.

I’ve experienced depression and my natural thinking style has been quite pessimistic, or realistic as I would have put it myself even ten years ago. In fact, after reading the book the realistic observations seem to be right according to the book, although the explanation style in life is a major downside, which indeed has been a more limiting and depressing factor.

As I’ve become more aware of this internal dialogue and more importantly the explanation styles I’ve become also more relieved that with such minor adjustments I can find reasons to live fuller life.

When it comes to pessimism and optimism, we are talking inevitably about our relationship to time and space as well. Optimists seem to think good things last forever, while pessimists that they are very specific and temporary.

In the long process of life, I find it that having the belief to influence things and make life better is a very empowering one. What I know for sure, is that we have the tiny space of control: our decisions. Nothing in the universe can take that ability to make our internal choices away from us, we have that power.

Leveraging that tiny choice, power of decision we can create higher quality lives for everyone.

Quality comes through quantity, the more we do the more quality we are likely to produce. The more we do, the more feedback we are able to receive and through that we can improve.

Therefore once we first learn the first step. Second step is to keep on the repetition until we have mastered that one step. If we keep taking once step at a time and that becomes our nature, we will master whatever we desire in life.

Learning optimism might help, however it isn’t a requirement. Only requirement is the decision and keeping on to that decision every day.

Dealing with Excuses

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Having started to adjust to the local time and climate after the flight here in Ho Chi Minh. Somewhat jet-lagged in midst of another culture, I take this as a wonderful chance to make the room for many new experiences and activities while keep just those most critical ones to me: i.e. writing & reading.

In theory it is very easy to do this just by forgetting everything that I cannot control, and focusing the present moment and then making time or do the writing and reading.

So far so good, excuses didn’t hold me in the bed after napping for the afternoon and I got down to writing.

I’ve recently become acutely aware, that most of the action is prevented because of my internal dialogue, stores and excuses. To counter this, thankfully there are some living examples that the excuses hold us back, such as Wung Deshun who exemplifies the ikigai, living purposefully spirit very well.

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” ― Jordan Belfort

By living courageously and consciously we can grow each day, each moment and thus develop ourselves towards the excellence of being that we still have possibility to become.

We’ll never reach perfection, so excellence will have to suffice.

Excellence is about doing your best, with what you have. It’s internal standard, internal sense of control about things. It’s about doing your best with things you can control and not worrying about things which are not in your control.

Stephen Covey, who introduced us to the circle of influence and circle of control in his book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People are useful tools here.

What things you can decide about? What are fully in your own control?

It’s all about focusing to that which you can do, which is in your control and the decision to do it. Build yourself identity of delivering to your decisions.

You can proactively help yourself to stick with your decisions by choosing the environment to support yourself as much as possible. Take cover of the basic necessities well ahead of time. Build strong social network and financial buffer to be able to sleep your nights well, knowing that you will be alright no matter what happens.

And/or alternatively just learn to live with so less that you are certain that no matter what happens you will be alright.

Excuses are at their weakest when they are just born in the form of story to your mind, be mindful about this and kindly remind yourself of the crawl towards your goals: even a little bit adds up to something. Zeroes do not add up to anything, work to get any results for today and then rest.

Make Your Life Exceptional

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Currently I am sitting at Moscow Sheremetyevo airport, thinking and kind of wishing everyday could be like this: exceptional, special, being able to do different kind of things out of routine.

In fact that is possible, by planning it in our lives. Life is about priorities and we need to make the stand for that.

We have this kind of freedom of choice in our lives. If we then seek out other people who shares such values, we have a lot more possibilities arrange our life around in very optimum ways. One example of such flexibility is Brazilian CEO Ricardo Semler who has introduced the Wednesdays as bucket list days in his company, allowing people to experience and live their lives fully.

I strongly believe in arranging the life to be able to live, long, fulfilling life, full of purpose. My view of the ideal life does not involve passivity to the excess, instead it involves active participation to the world around.

Best feelings in life is succeeding in something that has been a learning experience. To be able to do this, requires the basic needs to be right: we need to have healthy sense of self in all areas of life to be able to perform at our best levels, in which the highest forms of learning and doing occurs.

I’ve personal experience on how short sighted it is to try to maximize pleasure of easy comforts and avoid the pains of life. You would be wise to take up the advice from stories and not to try the easy road. In the end, a price must be paid.

We need to do the uncomfortable things, however the uncomfortable and difficult don’t need to be too uncomfortable or difficult, they only need to be very slightly so.

False beliefs and too high expectations can drive us to take a too big bite of the cake at once. We even may end up explaining that failure in a rather unproductive way, which may lead our stories to grow further apart.

Keep in mind always to practice at your level and challenge yourself just slightly so above your level, so that you will always have something to learn. Courage is the key to stay active and read how to develop courage to get more ideas on how to stay out of comfort zone.

We have what we negotiate to ourselves

Once we accept and acknowledge that it is indeed good and fulfilling to reach to the world and get out of the comfort zone preferably each day. Next step would be to identify your values: who are you and what you value?

Introspecting values, priorities, dreams is very important inner journey we must start to walk while at the same time to reach for the outer world for more experience. Your feelings are important feedback for yourself, reflect on them and on how did your expectations match with the experience.

Once you know a bit more who you are and what you want, you should also identify role models: people who have already achieved what you want or are doing something that you really value. Learning and connecting with these people can provide important guidance for you as well. These people do not need to be even alive, a lot of them have written books that continue to tell their stories.

Once you know what you value and you can recognize who shares those values, you should also look and identify groups of people that align with your values and goals. From this fruitful common ground you can live life purposefully and the going starts to be fun and truly rewarding. Of course there is a lots of learning and failing, however you are doing it because it’s connected with your story more deeply. You can start saying yes to your purpose and no to everything else.

Jari Sarasvuo said it well during a coaching, I guess this comes originally from William Ury: “If it’s not hell yes, then it’s no.”

Know what’s your yes. You will improve the odds of arriving there and your negotiation power as well. Remember your values and priorities and follow them.