Wish. Try. Should. Deserve. These are four words thatÂ “lend themselves to a certain self-deception”, says David Cain of Raptitude, and when you catch yourself using them you should take note, figure out how the word is being used, and maybe try to change your perspective.
Why? Because, Cain says, these are ‘red flag’ words that often indicate that we’re being “presumptuous, simple-minded, or sneaky”. On using wish:
Not only is it useless for changing the circumstances, but it reinforces the myth to which Iâ€™ve momentarily fallen prey: that my happiness is dependent on my circumstances only and has nothing to do with my attitude. Itâ€™s a bitter little plea that life isnâ€™t what I want it to be in this particular moment, and a dead giveaway that Iâ€™m not prepared to do anything about it right now.
Wishing is a desperate, self-defensive behavior. It gives you a little hit of relief from a reality you donâ€™t want to deal with, but it sure doesnâ€™t move things along.
Of course, in those moments, Iâ€™m too consumed by my fantasies to see that my attitude is usually the biggest and most damning feature of the present circumstances. If my attitude sucks, the circumstances suck. But acknowledging that would mean I have to be responsible for it, and itâ€™s easier to instead wish for theÂ cavalryÂ to appear on the horizon and save me.
There are obviously problems with this line of reasoning (and Cain discusses some of these in the post comments), but I like this general idea and feel that we could all add a word or two to this list.
via The Browser
Three necessary elements must be present for a behaviour to occur: Motivation, Ability, Trigger — and understanding this is fundamental to understanding how to change behaviour. That’s according to B.J. Fogg and his team at the Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab, as described by their Behaviour Model.
To make behaviour change easier the team identified the fifteen ways that behaviour can be changed,Â described each with precision, and related them to a specific “psychology”. Together this information became the Behaviour Grid:
To use the behaviour grid and to see the detailed information and advice for each behaviour type, follow the necessary steps in the useful Behaviour Wizard tool or view the grid directly.
Recent talk of the correspondence bias (here) reminded me of possibly the best commencement speech that I’ve not yet written about (and I’ve written about quite a few): David Foster Wallace’s commencement address to the graduates of Kenyon College in 2005.
The speech, often cited as Wallace’s only public talk concerning his worldview,Â was adapted following his death into a book titled This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, About Living a Compassionate Life and is essential reading for anyone interested in personal choice: the choice of thinking and acting in a way contrary to our self-centered “default” worldview.
Actually, scrap that, it’s just essential reading for everyone.
Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is. [â€¦]
If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn’t have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It’s the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I’m operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the centre of the world, and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities.
To read the speech I recommend the version from More Intelligent Life linked above as it is true to the speech as it was given. If you prefer a slightly more edited read, The Wall Street Journal‘s copy and The Guardian‘s copy may be more to your taste.
As introverts are a minorityâ€”a mere twenty-five percent of the populationâ€”there are many persistent misconceptions aboutÂ the introvert personality among the majority.Â After readingÂ The Introvert Advantage, Carl King decided to compile a list of myths about introverts, explaining why each misconception is false:
- Introverts don’t like to talk.
- Introverts are shy.
- Introverts are rude.
- Introverts don’t like people.
- Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
- Introverts always want to be alone.
- Introverts are weird.
- Introverts are aloof nerds.
- Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
- Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
The list itself is fairly obvious and pedestrian, but it’s King’s short descriptions that are trulyÂ insightful. For example, here are the explanations for myths four, five and six:
Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involvedÂ in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.
via Link Banana
The name Eliezer Yudkowsky immediately conjours in my mind the word rationality (thanks to his addictive piece of fan fiction,Â Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality). On a recent visit to his site, this connection has now be strengthened after I saw his excellent essay onÂ the twelve virtues of rationality:
- Curiosity: A burning itch to know is higher than a solemn vow to pursue truth.
- Relinquishment: Do not flinch from experiences that might destroy your beliefs.
- Lightness: Surrender to the truth as quickly as you can.
- Evenness: You are not a hypothesis, you are the judge. Therefore do not seek to argue for one side or another.
- Argument: In argument strive for exact honesty, for the sake of others and also yourself [â€¦]Do not think that fairness to all sides means balancing yourself evenly between positions; truth is not handed out in equal portions before the start of a debate.
- Empiricism: Always know which difference of experience you argue about.
- Simplicity: When you profess a huge belief with many details, each additional detail is another chance for the belief to be wrong.
- Humility: To be humble is to take specific actions in anticipation of your own errors.
- Perfectionism: The more errors you correct in yourself, the more you notice.
- Precision: More can be said about a single apple than about all the apples in the world. The narrowest statements slice deepest.
- Scholarship: Each field that you consume makes you larger.
- The Void
I believe that the ninth virtue, perfectionism, is the most elegant and I implore you to read the full essay if only to read that description in full (and, I guess, to discover what The Void is). However the eleventh virtue of rationality, scholarship, almost perfectly describes why I write here and may go some way to explaining my diverse reading habits:
Study many sciences and absorb their power as your own. Each field that you consume makes you larger. If you swallow enough sciences the gaps between them will diminish and your knowledge will become a unified whole. If you are gluttonous you will become vaster than mountains. It is especially important to eat math and science which impinges upon rationality: Evolutionary psychology, heuristics and biases, social psychology, probability theory, decision theory. But these cannot be the only fields you study. The Art must have a purpose other than itself, or it collapses into infinite recursion.