Get Crawling

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Life is imperfect, we need to accept this right off the bat. Imperfection is not the reason not to get started and going. I am imperfect. So may be you. Yet both of us have the capacity to become something a little bit better, this in fact I feel like is the meaning of life.

To be able to become a little bit better, in order to benefit others more. To love myself so that I could nurture the growth of others as Scott Beck put it.

Whatever it is you are interested in doing, you should find a ways to do it now, or very at least today something towards it. Then just repeat it the next day and you are again a step closer.

Today I for example I calculated that I managed to combine three activities that must be done into a one: exercise, chores and learning. In fact all of these I wanted to do now, because I know that how much I will benefit from all of it. I feel like it is great use of time to batch activities like this.

World won’t be perfect over a day. Sometimes big breakthroughs do happen overnight either by coincidence or by sheer creativity and necessity. Yet most of the improvement happens gradually over time. Breakthroughs are rather unpredictable and what matters most is the crawl: ability to every day proceed towards what is deemed as important.

Now when we are moving, let’s talk about prioritizing your tasks.

Prioritizing is one of the most difficult cognitive task we can set for ourselves. We have to make choices to do and not to do. I recently learned that it’s rather useful to set the morning for prioritization and this is true especially for me who gets interrupted a lot at work during the day in an open office setting.

Of course prioritizing happens through the day and through week. I plan my work week ahead during Sundays. This has been a habit for me since my college years when I liked to dedicate Sunday for quiet study and contemplation without any interruptions. I still do enjoy this Sunday study time a lot and in fact even today I used to prioritize my life board – it’s kind of collection of post it’s full of wisdom that include my goals, daily actions to crawl towards those goals and important tools to keep with me during the journey. Reorganizing and updating this info is one of my favorite things to do during the week – I feel like when I organize my life board my mind gets clearer as well.

Now you know what you want to do during the week and during the day, just get crawling.

Exercise Advantage

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We are created to move. The benefits of exercise transfer to all areas of life. I guess one of the most underappreciated form of advantage is the cognitive advantages: people who exercise more learn faster and remember better.

Above all it is not even that difficult: we just need to reduce the passive time and substitute it with standing up or walking for example.

The 10 000 steps a day is a worthy goal. Even if you cannot make it to the 10 000 try 7 000 at first, it’s gonna transform your life in the long run, not just your body, but your mind as well.

Over time, exercise energizes. Exercise let’s us to rewire our thoughts and emotions into a more positive state as well.

Health is based on movement, nutrition and sleep. If you have enough of all these, you are likely to live a healthy life. Then there are exceptions to both directions. Those who exercise gain the health advantage, those who do not throw the advantage away.

Cognition Advantages

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A common misconception is that intelligence is fixed. It’s not so much at all.

In fact I dislike to use the word intelligence at all, because it is so emotionally loaded.

I’ve contemplated the topic of intelligence a lot especially from personal development / intelligence improvement point of view, from which I wrote a popular reply to Quora on 2013.

The more I’ve learned the less I’ve liked the word intelligence. If we are thinking along the lines of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences there are so many kinds of intelligences that it’s absurd to claim any kind of intelligence.

Therefore I am more in line with ability to think and learn. When it comes to thinking and learning it’s all about cognition.  When we are talking about cognition we are also talking about great health, because these two are strongly interconnected.

Here are some cognitive advantages:

  • Basic acknowledgement when it comes to cognition is that our brains do consume a lot of calories, one fifth of all our intake. Quality of calories for sure matters in the long run as well. Pay attention to your diet from your minds perspective.
  • Unrested mind is literally the same as drunk. Have good quality and quantity sleep.
  • Fear literally shuts down our cognition at worst, or any kind of fear inhibits our higher cognitive function. Learn to recognize fear.
  • Stress, especially the stress about safety (i.e. income, relationship, home…) reduces our cognitive capabilities.
    • Build income buffers to reduce this.
    • Work to create more opportunities for income (=diversifying)
    • Learn to invest and manage money.
    • Learn what is in your control and focus to that.
  • Be happy first. Success follows happiness, not the other way around.
    • Start a journal and find three good things about each day.
    • Start giving to others, that way the happiness lasts longer.
  • Learn to control your breath: meditate
  • Exercise, even walking is better than nothing!
  • Work proactively with the numbers on your side
    • This reduces both stress and fear plus it gives you good night sleep knowing you’ve worked from the probabilities.
  • Emotional first aid: learn to forgive yourself.

Listening to Improve Our Will and Focus

Today as I was reading upon Road Less Travelled by Dr. Scott M. Peck I got reminded again of the importance of listening.

Deep listening does take effort. I remember when I was first listening Jari Sarasvuo speaking and even with all focus I could muster most of what he said didn’t seem to click or connect in my understanding. I still feel like I learned a lot and I wrote down as much notes as I could. I still hold have the notes and through them I can partially recall points he made.

After the lecture I was amazed also that some people who didn’t seem to put much effort in listening seemed to be disappointed.

Although becoming great speaker and thinker is a one thing, to get anything we would need to become great listeners as well because only in the combination with thinking for example we can start to cocreate something greater.

Listening takes effort, however exactly through that effort you will develop greater capacity for other cognitive skills such as attention and focus as well.

What Would Happen If You Could Do The Difficult Thing With Ease?  

 

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What happens when you repeat difficult things often enough? Difficult becomes automatic, even easy. When difficult is not difficult anymore.

What are the roadblocks to do these things?

Writing a blog for example is not as time consuming as one might think. Easily the same amount of time is spent each day chatting in messenger or just browsing news or social media.

Easy things are attractive, they are easy to repeat and they become habits easily.

Difficult things are not necessarily more difficult, we just believe them to be so and therefore come up with all kinds of excuses not to take the action and actually repeat the process. In time even the most difficult tasks can become part of us: smooth and easy. It’s a process of smoothing out the excuses and distractions that stand in our and the actions way.

These excuses and distractions occur precisely because of our beliefs, attitudes and because we do not know any better. By starting work on this a bit by bit, who knows what can happen.

“Problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them.” ― Albert Einstein

Therefore, we must work on our mindsets.

Planting and growing great ideas

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Living now, in the information age is a blessing from the learning point of view. There have been so many brilliant thinkers and ideas in before us that have already laid down some paths. There probably hasn’t been an issue in human life that hasn’t been already pondered by smarter, more experienced fellow human beings in the past.

Vast repository of knowledge remains, after these brilliant thinkers. It’s really fertile ground to be building upon.

To me personally this enlightenment about the ground covered so far has come relatively recently, only a few years ago. In fact all in all there was barely any intellectual challenging activity in my brain until in 2007 I decided to turn my life around. Since then, I’ve been on a path of conscious growth (with some minor relapses back to the darkness).

Because for me the first twenty years of my life were spent with other things, and less conscious and aware decision making, I’ve thought about really hard about how can I start learning. In fact in the recent years I’ve been spending increasing amount of time asking myself how can I adopt the great ideas to my life and make them work for me?

First I’ve noticed that there is no shortness of ideas, so therefore have to first qualify what kind of ideas I am looking for. It’s ongoing process based on current understanding of reality, thus the qualification process is also always under improvement.

Secondly once there is some kind of idea, what is a great idea I need to somehow notice it. Noticing great ideas is difficult, because human mind likes to reject everything novel. It requires a lots of conscious power and exposure to people who I think might have a glue what they are talking about. Books, audio programs and Youtube are my favorite ways to overcome the rejection and keep the repetition levels high to be able to actually notice the ideas.

Our cognitive abilities are limited. Most of us are around the average, so we need to spend a lots of time and energy to make sure we are getting exposed to new ideas that might serve our lives better in the future.

We can choose to have time and space for these new ideas to grow and flourish.

Who knows how many fruit gardens one seed of learning contains?

Help by doing the difficult

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It seems that the human tendency for the easy is like sugar for the flies. Yet most beneficial for us all is the hard work. Hard, that takes effort to complete.

There is limit to the hard work we can do each day, because it is so strenuous to our minds. We simple have limited amount of cognitive ability for each day; limited number of decision that can considered good.

Today I stumbled upon amazing article by Buster Benson about our mind and how it distorts reality. Message there is simple, biases exist to protect us from the reality that would overload us.

Conscious mind however, has the ability to bit by bit start seeing the world as it is. This is called Vipassana.

What does this mean? Do not settle for the easy, struggle for the difficult. That way we grow and we all have more.

Everything goes well until everything goes hell – how to get back on the road?

 

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When everything is good, it’s easy to do and be happy. Real measure is when we have to work under pressure to achieve results, this is when culture reveals itself.

Culture is what we do under pressure.

When something shocking happens, it’s very easy to say anything, everything and be right without proper discussion.

There abundance of shocking and sad news; yesterday we were shocked again by the terrorist attacks in Nizza, because we’ve become numb to the numbers and news we hear from middle-east.

Our brains require ever more shock value, in both good and bad to feel anything. This just reminds me too to practice more restraint in everything to avoid becoming totally numb with the news.

Purpose of such a strike is to strike fear, no terror. Needless to say fear based decision making is not so smart, it’s not good for anyone. Fear lives deepest core of our brain structure: the amygdala. Have you heard of flight or fight? Yeah! Fear is one more layer below that, which can cause one more thing to happen, the last survival mechanism: freeze. Literally freezing is the evolutionary survival mechanism that has brought us here.

Although in the wilderness in is useful, I don’t think fear will be the force to unleash the potential of the human culture.

Freezing can happen in just your brain too: it shrinks our cognitive capacity.

So we get shocked by a terrorist attack, then we start to make decisions. Primarily about our own survival and safety. Not good of the long term. We start to look for outside threats, this causes division among ourselves. We are not treating the root problem, we are too busy fearing.

Now what we should do to get back on the road?

I didn’t write this to provide answers, more just to provoke some discussion.

I am really sad about the internal division that the Daeshi is managing cause with these attacks. What I am sure of is that should resist the temptation to scratch the itch.

If you are interested further reading about fear and emotions, I really recommend you to read “Why we fear” by Henkka Hyppönen. He was also interviewed about this book in the Boss level podcast by Sami Honkonen.

Middle way is great for creativity

water-263054_1920Creativity is ability to produce ideas and bring them to reality. Creativity is the result of effort, usually long before the actual creation happens. All and any experience are useful for creativity.

Yesterday I wrote about human mind how it has enables creativity and thus also rapid cultural evolution.  Building more on top of this idea I want to explore the topic of creativity abilities of human mind a little bit further.

Power of the human mind comes from the power of making connections and associations really efficiently. Just to give some picture human brain can calculate about 10 quadrillion operations per second, where as world’s fastest super computer Tianhe-2 about 55 quadrillion. The difference comes of course in energy usage where human brain only requires about 20 watts of power, where as the Tianhe-2 requires about times 900 000 more or 17,8 megawatts. [1]

It’s this thought networking ability that makes us brilliant, that’s also what makes us creative. Essentially the ability to connect two seemingly separate ideas is our power and the power of creativity.

So, how to use this knowledge to be more creative?

The process to use this is about to learn about differences and then to ponder how the topic seemingly disparate topics are actually simiilar and beneficial. World’s most flourishing cities have always been that which tolerate differences [2].

We hugely benefit by learning about opposite points of views and then calmly apply it to our own lives as the middle way or the dance within middle way as aI prefer.

I prefer the dance in the middle ways, because sometimes I do feel the urge and necessity to dive deeper in a particular topic only to emerge from that depth to continue on a more balanced approach, yet daringly combining everything I’ve learned so far.

As a recent example I am starting to see both, science and spirituality as a great tools to increase human understanding.

Human mind attempts to make sense of the world by polarizing things as a good or bad. Yet if we are mindful about it, we can keep our minds open and we can keep on learning both sides of the story. This is huge boost for our creativity as well as our understanding.

For a scientific mind it would be foolish not challenge world views as much as it would be foolish it would be foolish not to seek oneness for a spiritual person. Both approaches are necessary for the deepest possible understanding.

If we walk the middle way, we don’t get stuck to either side for too long. Instead we leverage the progress in both sides for all our advantage.

 

[1] Scientific American 2016. Avaialble at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/artificial-synapses-could-let-supercomputers-mimic-the-human-brain/

[2] Maailmanhistoriankukoistavimmat kaupungit. Ari Turunen, Into 2015

We are the end users of really sophisticated user experience

Saturday morning study is my favorite study time. I usually wake up relatively early after the work week, not so well rested yet, but enough to have the time for contemplation.

This morning I stumbled upon my thoughts about the unconscious mind. I haven’t given the idea much thought in a long while. I remember that when I begun writing my journals around 2009, I was quite interested in what’s going on in my head and I did record dreams quite meticulously. I had zero idea what to do with them and as I begun journey of curiosity and learning I became quick to dismiss the idea of interpreting dreams as pseudoscience and I did not see the matter in hand to have any connection to real science.

Now I’ve opened my mind for another kind of perspective through the book that I’ve almost now finished:  Road Less Traveled. This book was actually a second or third push for me to consider this topic, I remember first two pushes have come from Jari Sarasvuo, who has talked about the power of unconscious. However, I’ve not had much anything to grip on.

Inspired by the book and the coaching by Jari, I decided to study on my own a bit about the topic. I did not even need to go far in order to get some thoughts of my own. Merely got beyond definition and a bit about the background of the unconscious mind when actually some ideas were thrown to my awareness.

Does there have to be an unconscious mind? I started to think this from the point of biology and “hardware” what we are equipped with. So our conscious attention span is really limited, only around 110 bits which means we can barely pay attention to two people talking to us. I wrote more about this conscious attention, flow and everything before, when I was considering how we should invest our attention.

So our conscious mind has limits and we know it. Our sensory input, which is essentially everything that sends information to elsewhere in the body is huge network and it has huge capacity. From the sensory input from outside world alone, and there is massive amounts of data alone: hearing, vision, smell, touch, speed, balance etc.

Based on these observations I decided to do a simple model like this:

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(Image 1)

Essentially in from the biological standpoint everything that comes into our bodies sensory system is at first data, potentially useful so that has to be first processed into information.  So who is gonna do this, if not the conscious mind? Well, I guess we could call it whatever, but let’s stick with unconscious mind.

To the image above I also put some things that the unconscious mind has to do from information processing standpoint.

Prioritizing is a no brainer, when our very basic survival is at stake, some things are more important than others. Prioritizing is also about task division, what can be done automatically and which require conscious attention. With conscious practice I’ve come to understand that it is possible to reorganize even the deepest unconscious priorities. This gives me some sense of belief that with training we are quite a conscious being around of iceberg of unconscious influences. We’ve the potential of awareness in us, yet it’s mastery over ourselves that the awareness demands.

Filtering I decided to leave with question mark for now. It’s hard to say if the unconscious mind in the long run does filter anything or does it merely wait for better moment?

Categorizing makes essentially data some kind of information and it’s also related with packaging, making information more effortlessly process able. It takes less effort to move a loaded truckful of stuff than for example stickful of individual pieces of items without any tool to aid.

Finally there is editing which I know happens with vision and hearing. For example the vision from two eyes is combined into an binocular vision, which is partly illusion. If done the right way for example some things such as your nose in your field of vision is edited out. I’ve got stratibismus since I was a child. I got treated really early so it’s mostly okay, however it has made me quite conscious about the connection between the brain and the vision.

Since most of the input and stuff that’s happening in our bodies, cannot be processed by our consciousness, there is something taking care of all that. It’s our unconscious mind tirelessly at work.

Could we improve our own life and the lives of other people around us, if we would listen more of our unconscious mind? Undoubtedly yes. And what I mean by listen, is of course just listen and considering what is the link our own conscious experience?

As I studied this morning this topic and considered what are the ways unconsciousness communicates with as. I turned just to the quickest source and most reliable source of information, Wikipedia. According to Sigmund Freud main three ways the unconsciousness mind represents itself are in dreams, slips of tongue and jokes. Of course any kinds of thoughts that intuitively slip to our minds are also messages from the unconscious.

In my mind, I’ve often admired and been awed by the creative genius in me who comes up with jokes. So far, I’ve only seen glimpses and glances of that side of me. That unconsciousness is in all of us and it represents our potential.

Today I realized it’s a conscious power to start to listen to the unconsciousness.

Also somehow, the field of thought who tries to expand our consciousness seems to be a wrong approach. How about just try to work better with what we have already? When I started to look at the amount of work that the unconsciousness is doing (Image 1), it was another awe moment. In Road Less Travelled, Scott Peck says unconsciousness represents 95% or more of us and that image certainly fails to represents that scale.

One more thought from my unconsciousness this morning I want to share, in the form of the question: have you ever heard of the Moominvalley?

Exactly that question, in Finnish thought, popped into my head earlier. And what connection I made of that when thinking about this very topic of consciousness and unconsciousness.

For Tove Jansson, the author of Moomin, the Moominvalley was a special place of imagination. Artists have been the artists of unconsciousness for long, we’ve a lot to learn from them on our journey to understand ourselves better. We are really blessed to be the end users of really sophisticated user experience called consciousness, however to change our world to better we must learn to listen our unconsciousness as well as only unconsciousness has more information about ourselves than anyone else alive.

Janne