Blogmas 12 – What I learned today

I was thinking recently about the content that I consume online. I was reflecting upon the teachings I obtain out of that. And it turns out, the majority is something similar to fast food – it tastes good, but it depletes you of energy and it’s not teaching me much.

So, I decided to stop consuming specific trendy or popular Instagram peoples that were not filling up my learning cup. Rather, it was taking me, my time, which I can use to better myself and to actually gain something out of that content consumption. So, here we are. I realised, much as I realised a couple of years back, when I was left stranded with no internet in the middle of the December holidays – Lessons of digital Detox link, that a lot of what I watch or see or read online is superficial. Super superficial. And in 2020, I want to make sure I consume content that makes me better or strive to be better, that teaches me something, that is helpful and useful, much as the content I want to produce and the mission this blog has, and not just content that is enjoyable, beautiful and catchy. Because, we all know, we are all, more than just, clothes, beauty and the so called “lifestyle” which concept, recently has lost its core. It is becoming increasingly connected to a certain luxury living and spa style life. Lifestyle is not what it used to be associated with, and the culprits are Instagram people and Youtubers that have transformed the meaning, because of what they promote or show through their videos and because of the perception we obtain based on that “show”. Unfortunately, we are all, also behind this lessening of the power of the word, because we are strongly condemning the concept in favour of other notions we are more close to, such as minimalism, and the reason behind that, in my humble opinion, is the fact that most of us relate to the normality of minimalism, daily struggle and frugal living, rather than a lavish lifestyle that we see portrayed everywhere around us, and of course, we desire it, it’s normal. But it’s not normal to stop relating to what truly deeply lifestyle is all about. It’s not just about food or healthy food or about exercising or about yoga and fitness, that we mostly define it by with, more and more, it’s about having a life that we enjoy, a life that we want, a life that keeps us going, that is sustainable to maintain and that keeps other people want to join in not because it’s “fashionable”, but because it is truly connecting us, as humans, it’s creating a community of like-minded people. But, it’s not this, which I have learned today.

Today I have learned that I get consumed by the content that I consume. And that happens because it’s easy to get in the “desire mood” of stuff we see online and we get fickle about things afterwards. I wrote about consumerism many years ago in this blog post named “A minimalist journey” and I realised that, once again, if you stay too much in the realm of people that are like that, you end up believing that’s what you need too. It’s the same as the saying “you are the quintessence of the top 5 people you most surround yourself with“. It goes the same for social media. Who do you constantly follow and how does that person influence you? The influence is subtle, is invisible, it’s clever. You may not realise but the coat you bought could have been triggered by a coat you saw at one of your favourite social media persons, and it does not need to be recent, it could have been seen 6 months ago. It’s still in your subconscious mind. Remember the trick with the subconscious mind and working pattern? It’s in this blog post.

I have learned today that there are people that lie and create a life based on that lie and they are able to live comfortably for a very long time. It’s hard to spot a faker because he has been faking it all his life. A faker is an expert in lie. He’s lied ever since he was younger. How can that person not be a professional in keeping up a mask that hides the fact they are not who they show the world they are, they do not have the knowledge or expertise of what they portray to have, and they are not the humans they say they are. It’s hard to see the missing pieces, because their flaws are hidden in plain sight. Sometimes so well, that you mistake the flaw with a quality. And the problem is this people are making YOU believe you have a problem, when in reality, it’s the other way around. Be careful, who you surround yourself with. You need an observatory spirit and you need lots of NUNCHI.

That’s the second thing I learned today. NUNCHI.

Nunchi is the Korean secret to happiness and success. The core of this view to life is reflected in a motto belonging to Arthur Conan Doyle and it goes like this “the world is full of obvious things that no one notices ever.”

Why people fail to observe these obvious things? Because people are more concerned with the rationals they hold in their heads and their cognitive distortions – see info on that here – link – and in this smartphone age we cannot notice it anymore because we have no time. Nunchi is something like a signal for intuition. Intuition is something we feel based on a variety of factors and brain shortcuts we have accumulated in time and that serve us as a life situations guide, more like a “how to” way of acting and behaving. Nunchi is from what I understood, a way of reflecting this side of the intuition in a mindful manner. If intuition happens more like a spark, something we feel all of a sudden and we interpret it as something we must or must not do (based on those factors appreciated briefly above), nunchi happens mindfully because we decide to pay attention, closely to things around us. If intuition is more like interpretation based on similar stuff that happened in the past (which is recorded somewhere in our memory and our survival brain is sending subtle signals to help us), nunchi is bringing this unconscious ability into the conscious realm.

When we experience intuition, is usually connected to a random situation in space and time, to subtle behaviours and words and non-verbal communication, to impulsiveness, in a way. When we want to feel nunchi and approach this on a day by day basis, we collide the intuition into constant present time, we force it to happen all the time, because we DECIDE consciously to be intuitive, to be observant, to notice, to care, to open our eyes and clearly see. I feel, nunchi is something we mindfully decide on experiencing.

It’s like the mindful version of intuition.

The third thing I learned today is in connection to nunchi and introversion. When I first read the book “The power of introverts” by Susan Cain, I felt that finally, here is something I can relate to totally. Well, in my opinion, nunchi is a form of power that mostly, introverts have acquired in their lifetime, due to their ability to be more patient with themselves, to be observant, to notice things that would normally be unseen by other people. An introvert is in a native manner more inclined to connect to his or her inner compass and that inner compass is this way of living, named by the Koreans “NUNCHI”. Nunchi is about understanding when to shut up, when to not disclose YOUR views, YOUR experiences, YOUR everything and why it is important to listen to the person that is giving you all these information. Observe what information you are being given. When you observe that, you will notice that you will be more careful with what you disclose, because you know what people can guess about you based on your disclosing thoughts. Nunchi is about being more present in the day to day life, about being mindful regarding our life experiences, about accepting the day to day “moods” and capturing in our inner compass all those subtle movements, words, gestures and sayings, maybe colours, situations, surroundings and details to better serve us for the future and to help us understand ourselves better.

When we pay attention, we select information. When we pay attention we are interested and when we are truly curious and interested, we remember better. Nunchi is about remembering all that and applying it every single second. It’s truly mindfulness overload. It’s living in the present moment. It’s more like Eckhart Tolle’s “the power of now”. Nunchi is the power of now.

Forth thing learned today is WORD OF 2019. Did you know that starting 2004, Oxford Dictionaries is designating one word per YEAR as the WORD OF THE YEAR? If in other years, words such as “selfie”, “vape” or “unfriend” have been on top, this year the first place was occupied by “climate emergency”. The oxford word of the Year is a word or expression shown through usage evidence to reflect the ethos, mood or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance. So 2019 is marked by climate emergency. Read more about the reasons behind this decision here, although I am sure you can relate to the reason this has been selected, as we all have been impacted this year by the impact of the climate itself and can easily relate to its significance.

The main thing to culminate my learning for today is this quote I found on my curated social media following list:

“DON’T LET ANYONE RENT SPACE IN YOUR HEAD UNLESS THEY ARE A GOOD TENANT”

Blogmas 7 – Cognitive Distortions to Restructure by the end of 2019

People will do anything, no matter how absurd to avoid facing their own souls, once wrote Carl Jung. We are all biased with different thinking patterns and brain shortcuts that we created in time to have time to cope with life and change. Sometimes these cognitive distortions make it hard for us to progress in life, and the universe keeps throwing at us the same lessons in different formats, and we still don’t get it. So, this December, and Blogmas, by the end of the year, let’s work together to restructure those mental biases we all deal with.

There are 13 common cognitive distortions that I will be briefly explaining and you could work on one at a time until the end of 2019 to make sure you step into 2020 with a new fresh thinking.

1.Overgeneralising – You see a constant, negative pattern based on one event. Maybe you think that if you did not get the position you applied for, you are not good enough and you think there is no point in applying to a future job ad. But, you base your future thoughts and eventually behaviours around a single event. Step out of your mind and don’t take your thoughts so seriously.

2.Blaming / Denying – You blame others for your problems or mistakes OR you blame yourself when it wasn’t entirely your fault. You could say that you did not obtain that job because you did not have connections or because the company liked a specific type of personality or that you did not prepare for the interview. If you indeed did not prepare for the interview, that’s easily fixed, next time, you know what you need to focus more on, since you passed the CV screening. If you believe that the company or another person is to blame for your failure, think again, maybe you should consider that when you put the blame entirely on others for something you did not achieved, it could be that you are avoiding to feel the real emotions behind your lack of success. The real emotion behind that could lie in the truth that you did not prepare enough, did not have enough experience, did not have enough of confidence to show it, and so on. Always try to see beyond the surfaced emotion and train of thoughts.

3.Shoulds – you have a rigid code of conduct dictating how you and others should behave. You criticise yourself harshly when you fail to follow these rules. Should lists are so dangerous to the mind. They are transforming you into a perfectionist, into a critic and that’s not at all equal to self-love and mindfulness and good judgement. On the contrary, shoulds are infectious and must be replaced with something more kind to ourselves: the right to make mistakes, the patience to learn from one’s mistakes and the determination to challenge an existing no-longer serving belief, such as the “should theory”. Also, to gain more understanding on the topic, have a read here on the crossroads between should and must in the pursuit of happiness.

4.All or nothing thinking – You see things as absolutes, no grey areas. This ties very well with the one above. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and to understand that all things come and go. There is no white or black, as much as we would all want to shortcut things that we go through, and categorise it to make our lives easier, life is complex, so, so is our thinking.

5.Negativity bias – You notice all the negatives, but fail to notice the positives. For this one, sometimes, our parents have raised us with their own biases as their own knowledge to keep us safe from the world and to protect our future reckless choices by implementing a fear emotion in us every time we might get attracted by adventurous thoughts or behaviours. It’s ok to let go of that. Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo and even if a positive attitude does not spare you of negatives happening in your life, you should know, we need negatives too to develop the positives. There is something good in every bad, and something bad in every good. There is no white or black.

6. Catastrophising – You always expect the worst. As much as this could be a self defensive mechanism, and sometimes it turns out to be good to have this idea in your head, as you actually get surprised by life, and something resplendent is thrown at you, this should be rarely thought or used. You cannot always expect the worst. You are made up of an energy of your thoughts. If you only believe bad things will happen, guess what will you be attracting in your life? Remember, you are energy. I will share with you a secret. Remember when you tell yourself or to others: “Don’t forget to… something?”. Do you remember what actually always happens? You forget or they forget. Why? Because you have trained your mind into a NO suggestion. Do NOT remember to do that. Instead, use the phrase “Remember to do this/ I will remember to….”. Use it and let me know how it worked for you in the comments! Also, to change this thinking pattern, I will give another example. Let’s say you think – “I can’t stand this” – to restructure this cognitive distortion you could say “I am severely distressed, but I will handle it. I can manage it!”.

ONLY GROW THOUGHTS IN YOUR BRAIN THAT YOU WOULDN’T MIND PUTTING IN A VASE.

7.Labelling – You label yourself negatively. You always speak of yourself with use of negative words. Sometimes we do this, because we lack confidence in ourselves and we tend to use less than positive thinking and sayings so that whoever hears us, can actually demount our beliefs. But when you are alone, there is no one to tell you otherwise. You never believe the mirror, and if you did, it would anyway tell you the opposite of what you want to actually hear, because you are saying it to yourself, in the hope you can cling to something that can save your day. Again, as Carl Jung pointed out, “people would do anything, to avoid facing their own souls.” Stop using bad words, such as poor, inferior, unacceptable, imperfect, defective, faulty, careless, miserable, rotten, incompetent, inept, awful, appalling, terrible, pathetic, useless, lousy, deficient and start replacing them with superb, jubilant, adorable, alluring, attractive, blooming, celestial, classy, dandy, elegant, divine, enchanting, exquisite (my favourite word) fancy, fabulous, gorgeous, incomparable, irresistible, magnetic, mesmerising, ravishing, splendid, sublime, top-notch. Because you are all of that and beyond. You are beautiful. And you deserve to live your life knowing that.

8.Magical thinking – You think everything will be better when … (you’re thinner, smarter, richer, get a new job, etc). You will not be better if you live believing something that has a potentiality to not come true because you are not acting upon it. Even if you do act upon it, a lot of the times, this magical thinking relates to not really being practical about what could lead you in the spot you believe it’s going to transform you into this queen of happiness. Again, you should refer to the above, but do not believe your thoughts, and don’t take them so seriously. All things come and go in life, and practising mindfulness and gratefulness is more achievable (see my Blogmas 3 – link here and 4 – link here ) and can break down these thinking patterns of magically becoming something you think you want, when deep down, there is something else you need to focus on. Remember Carl Jung: “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.” What are you avoiding by making use of magical thinking?

9.Over-personalizing – You make things personal, when they aren’t. You believe other people’s opinions are facts. You think what other people do or say is in reaction to you. I used to be a daily user of this destructive habit. Working in a call centre, you get a lot of people annoyed at the service or product and they say things such as “You do not understand”, “You think you know it all”, “You must listen to me, I am the customer” and I would easily get demotivated, annoyed, angry and sometimes even believe of myself of being incompetent. But I guess, you need to go through it to get out of it. Just be aware of this cognitive distortion and distort it in your favour. Instead of thinking of yourself to do everything well because you cannot cope with another negative feedback, say something like “I would prefer to perform well, but it’s not a disaster if I don’t.”

10.Mind -reading – you make assumptions about what other people are thinking. And we all are culprits on this one. We make assumptions because we are judgemental. And this is hard to get rid of. To reach that though, you first need to acknowledge there is a problem. That way you are half way through. For this, you can train yourself when speaking to people by listening in a mindful way, being fully present, without trying to control the conversation or the person you are speaking to think your way or convince them of something and to be free of judging their perspective. Rather, try understanding their perspective and see through their glasses. What do they see? What would they want to hear from you? What would you like to hear if you were in their shoes?

11.Double standard – You hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else. I am the personification of this cognitive distortion. I am a perfectionist and I am still figuring out how to restructure this distortion in my mind. A lot of the times, people experiencing double standard demand a lot of themselves, are severe to themselves if they do not stand up to their own elevated expectations of what they should have accomplished and they may surround themselves with people who aren’t that professional. Sometimes they do, but they immediately feel the person and when they see that everyone that they’ve met so far fails their standards, they might start to overgeneralize and more biases are born. Be careful what you tolerate, you are teaching people how to treat you. If you demand a lot of yourself, and show this to others, they might start asking more from you, because they believe of you being capable of delivering more than anticipated. This puts you in a position of stress and pressure to accommodate your standard to even higher ones, because for a person with a double standard, nothing is ever good enough.

12. Fallacy of fairness – you think things should work out according to what you think is fair. People do not have the same standard as you do. People have their own level of fairness and correctness and consciousness. I get a lot frustrated by the fact that people do not see things as I see them and this thinking pattern falls into this category because I expect them to think the same way regarding specific general topics, such as cleanliness, as an example. The truth is, people are unique and so is their viewing on the world, and so is their behaviour. What you think is trash might be someone else’s treasure and vice-versa. That’s how you need to think all aspects of life to heal this cognitive distortion. Also, do remember that “everything that irritates us about others, can lead us to an understanding of ourselves” as Carl Jung said.

13.Emotional Reasoning – you think your feelings are reality. In fact, they only portray your perception of the world. They are unique and they do not mean they are highlighting the reality around you. If you feel crap, it does not mean you are horrible. That’s just your interpretation of an emotion. Step out of that behavioural pattern and be kind to yourself. Appreciate what you have and who you are and who you are becoming. To reconstruct this cognitive distortion of emotional reasoning, you have to start thinking that your mental health is to be treated with the same importance as your physical health. When you think “I am worthless/ I feel worthless” do believe that YOUR EMOTIONS DO NOT DICTATE YOUR REALITY and say it to you out loud: “My emotions do not dictate my reality”.

Be patient with yourself as nothing in nature blooms all year round.

More words to heal you and start the transformation process until the end of the year: GATHER COURAGE LIKE WILDFLOWERS. (Jak Major)

Sometimes, when you’re in a dark place, you think you have been buried but actually you have been planted.

I would like to end today’s Blogmas with one word, this is EQUANIMITY.

Equanimity is a mental calmness, composure and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation. I believe that all these cognitive distortions are ways we use to cope with life and the experiences we face. We need mindfulness and lots of self-care to achieve this equanimity thinking pattern and I am confident with enough information and explanation and exposure to uplifting content, we can all be examples of challenging our existing beliefs and restructuring our most common cognitive distortions that stop us from truly come to terms with tranquillity and peace and our own unique story of life or career success.

Which cognitive distortion do you find yourself hard to overcome?

How to think like Sherlock Holmes

“Holmes was a detective second to none, it is true. But his insights into the human mind rival his greatest feats of criminal justice. What Sherlock Holmes offers isn’t just a way of solving crimes. It is an entire way of thinking, a mindset … a model for thinking, a way of being.” (Maria Konnikova)

how to think like sherlock holmes mindsetWhy it is important to learn to think like Sherlock Holmes?

The world we live is in binding us to become totally disconnected not just from our own selves, but from the people and from the way we treat the information we come across. We are mindless. We let out minds drift away, we cannot pay attention anymore and we are attractive the multi tasking forces in order to keep up. But, is this the answer? In recent years, studies have shown that meditation like thought for as little as 15 minutes a day, can shift bran states, and that looking at scenes of nature, for even a short while, can help us become more insightful, more creative and more productive. We also know that our brains are not built for multi tasking. When we are made to do multiple things at once, not only do we perform worse on all of them, but our memory decreases and our general well being suffers a lot. We live on, blindly unaware of how much we are missing, of how little we grasp of our own thought process and how much better we could be if only we would have taken the time to understand and to reflect. But it is not that we are not capable of doing so, it’s just that we do not choose to do it anymore.

“Think back to your childhood. Chances are, if I asked you to tell me about the street you grew up, you would be able to recall any number of details. The color of the houses. The quirks of the neighbors. The smells of the seasons. How different the street was at different times of day. Where you played. Where you walked. Where you were afraid of walking. I bet you could go on for hours. As children, we are remarkably aware. We absorb and process information at a speed that we will never again come close to achieving. New sights, new sounds, new smells, new people, new emotions, new experiences: we are learning about our world and its possibilities. Everything is new, everything is exciting, everything engenders curiosity. And because of the inherent newness of our surroundings, we are exquisitely alert, we are absorbed, we take it all in. And what’s more, we remember: because we are motivated and engaged, we not only take the world in more fully than we are ever likely to do it again, but we store it for the future. But as we grow older … we think: been there, done that, don’t need to pay attention to this, and when in the world, will I ever need to know or use that? Before we know it, we have shed that innate attentiveness, engagement and curiosity for a host of passive, mindless habits.

Ask yourself:

  • How many thoughts float in and out of your head without your stopping to identify them ?
  • How many ideas and insights have escaped because you forgot to pay attention ?
  • How many decisions or judgements have you made without realizing how or why you made them, driven by some internal default settings of whose existence you’re only vaguely, if at all, aware ?
  • How many days have gone by where you suddenly wonder what exactly you did and how you got to where you are ? We’ll take Holmes’s  methodology to explore and explain the steps necessary for building up habits of thought that will allow you to engage mindfully with yourself and your world as a matter of course. ” (Anna Konnikova)

how to think like sherlock holmes mindset

Here are 10 ways on how to think like Sherlock Holmes: 

1. Use your mind to scrutinize everything you encounter, an idea, an information, a knowledge, a gossip. One of the things that characterized Sherlock Holmes’s thinking was a natural skepticism and inquisitiveness toward the world. The truth is our minds are preset to accept everything they are given. First we believe and only after that we question.Reboot your mind and avoid assuming anything is the way it is. Think of everything by adding a healthy dose of skepticism. 2. Understand your brain’s bias and use it to be more organized in your thoughts and clear about the world. “Our minds love nothing more than jumping to conclusions.” The Affect Heuristic – how we feel is how we think. A happy and relaxed state of mind receives easily a certain information, it is influenced in the direction that the speaker wants you to be influenced to . The Availability Heuristic – we use what is available to the mind at any given point in time. As an example, when we meet a stranger, we immediately draw a impression on him/her based on our past experiences (including clothes, body language, appearance and language) and patterns of our mind on creating judgement along with the state of being in that specific day. We won’t be able to control every piece of information that our brains retain. But we can decide on which information we pay more attention based on the misconception perceptions that our minds work on.  3. Pursue your brain into going from the passive state of mind into the active state of it. What has influenced my first impression ? And consequently, has that first impression in turn influenced others ? The message is simple: never forget that an initial impression is only that, and take a moment to reflect on what caused it, and what that may signify for your overall aim. 4. Observation – knowing what and how to observe. This is why at this stage, we need the other 3 steps. Direct your observation in compliance with your scrutiny process, with your understanding of being active and skeptical not just about the world, but about your own mind too. What details do you focus on? What details do you omit ? And how do you take in and capture those details that you choose to zoom in on ? You don’t just take into your brain all details, you take it as organized and as clearly as possible. When you will need that information, you need to know how to search it. Choosing wisely means being selective. It means looking with the full knowledge that what you note – and how you note it – will form the basis of any future deductions you might make. 5. Filter the information you have, everything that you receive through the use of the above steps. Don’t let your lazy wandering default state of mind to think for you, as this is another bias of our brains. We need to tell our brains what and how to filter the data it receives from the world. How ? Read the next steps: 6. Be selective. We want to learn to pay attention better, to become superior observers, but we can’t hope to achieve this if we pay attention to everything. Quantity versus Quality. What we need to do is allocate our attention mindfully. Allocate your attention strategically, notice everything that it is important to the situation you are serving. Make the most of your limited resources, especially your attention. 7.Be objective. Understanding a situation in its fullness requires several steps, but the first and the fundamental rule is to realize that observation and deduction are not the same. Learn to separate the situation from interpretation, yourself (your thoughts, your emotions, from what you are seeing. Don’t jump to making a judgement immediately after observing. 8. Be inclusive. When we are being inclusive, we never forget that all of our senses are constantly in play. We don’t let them drive our emotions and decisions. Instead, we actively enlist their help and learn to control them. For instance, a smell (the olfactory senses are very powerful triggers of memory and emotions) may let you make a deduction based on your previous experience with that particular smell, affecting the judgement of the situation you encounter. Likewise,when we touch something cold or warm, we may become more cold or more warm in our disposition. If we are touched by someone in a reassuring way, we may suddenly find ourselves taking more risks or being more confident than we otherwise would. When we hold something heavy, we are more likely to judge something (or someone) to be weightier and more serious. None of this has anything to do with observation and attention per se, except that it can throw us off a carefully cultivated path without our awareness. The environment may influence us, we need to pay attention to it and never assume anything. 9. Be engaged. Your mind needs to be active, involved in what’s doing. When we are engaged in what we are doing, we persist longer at difficult problems, we experience the flow as mentioned in a previous article here, we become more motivated, we even become LESS likely to commit some of the most fundamental errors of observation such as mistaking a person’s outward appearance for factual detail of his/her personality. When you feel strong personal engagement with something, you will feel it is worth that extra push. 10. Imagination is the essential next step of the thought process. It uses the building blocks of all the observations that you’ve collected to create the material that can then serve as a solid base for future deductions. Imagination must come from a basis in real, hard knowledge, and it is a setup for deduction. The imagination, the creation is grounded in reality, everything that you have stored in your memory so far out of the consistent, detailed observations you have made.And bare in mind that in order to think more like Sherlock Holmes, you should deduce only from what you’ve observed and nothing more.The imagination process is helpful to bring you to the deduction process. Without imagination we would never be able to reach the heights of thought that we are capable of; we would find it difficult to use the facts we have in any way that would improve our judgement and decision making. Imagination allows us to see things that aren’t so. It lets us see what might have been and what might be even in the absence of firm evidence. When all of the details are in front of you, how do you re-arrange it ? How do you know which is important? Much of imagination is about making connections that are not entirely obvious, between elements that at first seem disparate.

Following Sherlock Holmes’s 10 steps to a more mindfulness state of being, we are less prone to stress, to making errors in our thinking process leading us to misconceptions, misjudgments and especially to mindless actions and behaviors

how to think like sherlock holmes mindset

Which of the 10 ways to how to think like Sherlock Holmes have you experienced so far?