Monday, August 25, 2014

Dealing with pushy, malicious types of people.

I keep running into people I would describe as "pushy". Importantly, I'm interested in pushy people who are also loose with the facts and will say anything to get what they want.

I've run into these people so often in my adult life that I have to accept that a good chunk of humanity is going to act this way constantly. So I need to learn how to deal.

Being rational doesn't work on them. They're immune to pointing out some inconsistent thing they've said. I think that they see it as a weakness, as though they can keep overstepping and I won't do anything about it. They just have to outlast me.

Being polite or kind seems to make their mouth water! The behavior gets worse.

Another descriptor I can offer is that they always watch intensely to read people's reactions and try to prevent time for thought.

When I fail at dealing with these people, my wife loses patience and gets angry and confrontational to make them quit their sh*t. We call it the "beast mode". Needless to say the rapport is gone after that!

Is there any other way? Do I really have to scold other adults regularly to be treated decently? I want to be able to handle this myself, but if possible, avoid the need for beast mode.

Below is an example if you need it:

On every term of the lease, our landlord tried something sneaky: saying a utility was included, but writing it down differently. Trying to get 60 days notice instead of 30. It was exhausting correcting him.

On the day we moved in, he was just hanging out in the place and floated the idea that we should come back tomorrow instead if it was all the same to us. (Whaat?) He hadn't cleaned it as agreed, so we moved into a dirty place.

For a month after moving in, he showed up unexpectedly and made as if to come in the place. I could tell he was testing us here to see if we knew he wasn't supposed to and to see if we would wear down.

At our move-out inspection, he blatantly lied about various "damages" and melodramatically appeared shocked about things that were already there when we moved in that HE had told us not to worry about. The behavior suddenly stopped when my wife said "You know we took pictures, right?". He didn't seem at all ashamed and was pretty cheerful about it.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Key to mastering self-discipline

I just want to share with you guys what I've learned after 4 years of studying personal development. This is stuff that I wish I understood years ago, and it's now starting to change my life.
  1. We are in control of ourselves much less than we think.
It's been said that we are creatures of habit. 90% of what we thought, felt, and did today are the same as yesterday. We like to think that we are in control, but in fact we are not. So stop beating yourself up if you fail to do something through lack of self-discipline. It's okay. It's called human nature.
  1. Awareness + Willpower = Growth, but we only get very little of both.
In order to change something in our lives, whether we want to change our habits, thought patterns, or the way we feel, we first need to be aware of it, and more importantly, we need to have the willpower to change it. We need both, but we only get very little. I would say we only have conscious control over ourselves 5% of the time. 95% of the time we are at the mercy of our habits.
  1. Use the very little awareness and willpower you have in order to create habits that increase awareness and willpower.
Remember that we are only in control 5% of the time? Use that to create a morning ritual that will increase your capacity for self discipline. I read a quote that went something like this: How we start our day is how we live our day, and how we live our day is how we live our lives. Starting your day right will set the tone for the rest of the day. For example, if you eat a healthy breakfast, you'll much more likely to eat a healthy lunch. Whereas if you eat junk food for your first meal, you'll think that since you already failed, you might as well eat junk food for your next meal, and the meal after that.
  1. Start to slowly shift the 95% unconscious behavior from bad to good.
Once you have ingrained self discipline increasing habits, you'll be in a much better position to change the other bad habits that you have, or add good ones. Remember to add/change one habit at a time, since it is hard enough to change one habit. Start with the easiest ones. Over time you will gain more and more self discipline to overcome the worst addictions you may have.
Here are the habits that I've found improve self discipline:
  1. Exercise (aerobics and strength training)
  2. Meditation
  3. Healthy diet
  4. Adequate sleep
  5. Cold showers
  6. No fap
Remember that we can't really be in control all the time. You can train your self discipline to mastery, but another part of it is just adding good habits and removing bad ones.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I am really proud of my dad today. He will probably never meet this man.

Yesterday, my dad wrote a letter and asked me if I would print him a copy. It was addressed to the son of his sister's friend who is only 37 yet recently lost both his legs and is scheduled for a kidney transplant, spinal surgery and a triple bypass. I offered to proof the letter for him and I was blown away at his compassion for somebody who he'll likely never meet. A significant portion of my childhood was spent with my dad living away or overseas so for the longest time, I didn't really know what he was made of. Today I'm incredibly proud of this man.

Dear Jeff,

You and I have never met, and you probably have never even heard of me. I am Dianne ****** brother, and I am well acquainted with your parents and your sister, so I certainly know who you are.

I have followed your progress for quite some time now Jeff, and have thought of you so gamely fighting the good fight many, many times. It has occurred to me that in your circumstances, how it would be so very easy just to give up and let go. Then I realised that the human spirit is simply not made that way, and that uncompromising courage in the face of overwhelming adversity is the stuff of legend so indelibly enshrined in recorded history.

History has left us with so many gifts from great men and even greater women and in particular their powerful words and inspiring deeds. These are people who led others by example, and who inspired ordinary people to do extraordinary things in dire and overwhelming circumstances.

One of these great men was Winston Spencer Churchill who was the Prime Minister of Great Britain throughout the entire duration of World War 2. Churchill was a very genuine and compassionate man and an extremely gifted orator, who made many rallying speeches via radio broadcast to the people of Britain, especially during the London blitz. Churchill was the quintessential patriot, and many of his speeches were so effective in motivating and rallying the citizens of Britain that it has been said that he “mobilised the English language and sent it into battle to defeat the enemy”. Such is the power of oratory delivered by a genuine and persuasive individual.

Churchill certainly left us the gift of his words, so cleverly and expertly crafted, that their meaning can never be changed, either in context or relevance, by the passage of time. One of his most famous speeches was made after the battle of Britain had been won by the British airmen, albeit at great cost in human lives. Among other things, Churchill said in this speech:

“Never in the field of human conflict, was so much owed by so many, to so few”.

One of “the few” to whom Churchill referred in his famous speech was Squadron Leader Douglas Bader (later Sir Douglas Bader) who in spite of, and in the face of great adversity, played a major role in winning the Battle of Britain.

The book that I have sent you with this letter is entitled “Reach for the Sky”. It is the true to life story of the legendary WW2 air ace, Douglas Bader. I don’t know whether you have heard of Douglas Bader before, but my generation learned about Bader at school. I read the book a number of years ago, and it is the most moving and inspiring biography I have ever read, and mate, I have read many. Before sitting down to write this letter I again read the book and was just as moved as the first time I read it, perhaps even more so with you in mind.

This true account of Bader’s life reflects on loss, pain, suffering, struggle and problems, but it also engages the reader with the will of the human spirit, of the refusal to accept defeat, of undaunted courage, of unflagging perseverance and patience, of incredible heroism and ultimately of victory and personal freedom. The truly astonishing thing about this book, Jeff, is that it doesn’t even touch upon the possibility of defeat. Bader was the type of man who refused to accept defeat as any kind of an option. He simply refused to let the word enter his vocabulary.

I truly hope that this book, if you choose to read it, will help to reinforce and replenish the courage you have already shown. Your courageous efforts thus far have convinced me beyond any doubt that you possess the Bader spirit in full measure. All you have to do now mate is remember some words from another of Churchill’s famous speeches where he said:

“Never ever give up….never, never,never,never,never”.

Jeff, you will hear a lot of placatory words and platitudes from well- meaning people. We Australians are so good at that. The old “You’ll be right mate” and “Chin up mate” and “Don’t let it get you down mate” can be very annoying sometimes and it can really piss you off. You must remember, Jeff, these people are your friends, and they simply don’t know what else to say or do to help you. Be patient with them mate, they are your friends and they really love you, and would, if only they knew how, do almost anything, within their power and ability, to help you.

What about your family Jeff? You have a beautiful and loyal wife who will always love you, and who will do anything for you. Of course you have the right to be angry and frustrated, and nobody could possibly argue that. Unfortunately mate, we all have the propensity to lash out at those who are closest to us, knowing and expecting that they will forgive us. And yes mate, they do forgive us, but they silently suffer terrible spiritual injury and emotional pain, to the extent that they, themselves, have difficulty in functioning and eventually need help to keep going. It is important Jeff, that you keep a rein on your anger and frustration, so that you do not unintentionally injure your wife’s spirit, for she is your staunchest ally and most fierce protector. With the passing of time you are going to witness the magnificence of your wife’s character with growing wonder and a new respect. Her strength and unflinching devotion will leave you in awe, and wondering how old Jeff ******** could have gotten so bloody lucky as to have her in his corner. Remember mate that the only reward, and I do mean the only reward, your wife seeks in return for all her care and devotion, is to see you happy and well, and living at home with her and your kids.

Also remember mate, that kids are a product of their environment. If kids have happy parents, then it follows that they live in a happy home and will always be happy kids. A happy childhood is the greatest gift that any parent can give their children, because we all reflect on our childhood when we are adults. A happy childhood is a gift that will last your kids throughout their lifetime.

I am certainly no psychologist Jeff, but I would encourage you to focus not so much on what you have lost and don’t have, but on what you still have, like the enduring unconditional love of your family, as well as the love, care and support of your friends. These things that you still have, and will never lose, are the foundations and the building blocks of the happy and successful future that you so richly deserve, and which is yours, and yours alone, to claim for yourself and your family.

Mate, I really hope that my letter hasn’t come across as some kind of unsolicited lecture given from a dilapidated soap box, by some sort of uninformed dunce. That would be totally contrary to my intentions. My letter and gift are given solely as a message of goodwill, encouragement and support from a family friend. I will be greatly pleased if you would accept this letter and gift in the spirit in which they are offered.

I send you my best wishes mate, and hope that you and yours have a very merry X-Mas and a happy and prosperous 2012 and beyond.

Keep on punching Jeff, and “Reach for the Sky”…happy days await you mate.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dear Zelda

Dear Zelda, I feel a bit foolish writing to someone whom I’ve never met, nor never will meet. More importantly, I feel foolish for writing a letter about an experience I haven’t encountered personally nor could even imagine. All I know is that I love my father.

 Even as I write the sentence, I feel my breaths grow deep and deliberate. I cannot construct, yet have often wondered, what my life would be like at the moment of losing someone so deeply influential to me Your father was an incredible man. A thousand people could say so and still be insufficient to describe how much.

 He embodied the child in all of us, and as we watched him, and grew close to him on the screen, we little understood the cost it exacted upon him. Forgive us. We loved him like a father, or perhaps a crazy uncle. He was the sad clown of an American dream; the person who could stare our deepest fears dead in the eye and laugh. He spent his life in front of all of us; acknowledging doubt, war, sickness, weakness, loss; the greatest fears and voids that live within the American psyche. But we also turned to him for insight; for reflection; for a smile. We stood on the cliff with him and asked what this great journey had in store for us; why it was worth the cost.

I will long marvel on the way in which celebrities seem to impact our everyday lives. I will stand amazed at how they exist as people we have never met, yet as those we feel deeply we know and love. And judge. People who are struck with troubles that lay outside our own sphere. But I think we will be hard-pressed to insist that a man like Robin exists outside our own experience. That we can somehow separate his pain from our pain, even as we embrace his joy as our joy. 

As I said before, I feel silly trying to declare something about your situation, but I will declare this; Robin Williams was the voice of a people fearful of acknowledging their own doubts. He was the voice of hope in a generation that lived in a shadow of uncertainty. Whatever messages you may receive from the embittered and poisoned people of this world, let me say that your father empowered the waning hearts of an entire world of cynics. We watched him in hospitals and tree trunks, in oil lamps and psych offices, in dreams, in classrooms, and in livingrooms, proudly declaring to the world that life was worth laughing about. Whatever his troubles, whatever his fears, he was a person to whom love meant something greater than I can describe. 

Once again, please forgive me for my presumptions upon him. My thoughts are with you and your loved ones at the epicenter of this great loss, and please know that I and many others are there for you in what little capacity we may have.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Why Motivation Is Important For You

Motivation is the driving factor in every industry but mostly in the business market. A company would work well if its employees are motivated and encouraged at every step and this can be done by providing them rewards and incentives which will also create an atmosphere of competence. Generally the industries demand for workers who are highly motivated and are self confident because only then they can motivate others and create a positive environment in the industry. But people who lack self confidence land in nothing because they can hardly face the audience and present themselves in front of others. They fumble and are overly apologetic which is a minus point for getting a project. Rather individuals who have good vocabulary and speaking skills and have their heads held high while presenting themselves are the ones who achieve success in life. They inspire confidence in others and their actions speak louder than words. 

An industry demands such people who have an experience of market, are self motivated and can gain the confidence of others by their influencing body language and speech. An individual gains confidence when he continuously achieves goals and masters skills that are required in a particular field or area. Hard work is the key to success and people who accept difficult challenges and thrive to achieve the best results are the ones who achieve success in life. Self efficacy and self esteem are two important factors that decide the confidence of an individual. Rewards and incentives provided by the owner also motivate the employees working in the company. Self confidence is not a quick fix and one will obviously take time to develop the skills. People who struggle to in this regard are the ones who suffer badly when it comes to getting a good job because today the industries demand a good personality, body language and communication skills apart from the technical knowledge of the subject.

Friday, August 15, 2014

20 Life-changing things I learned from Robert Glover's book 'No More Mr. Nice Guy'

First, let me preface this by saying that I used to pride myself on being such a nice person. I still think that being nice on some levels is important and there is no point in being a dick for the sake of it, but Glover's book goes so much deeper than this.
A typical Nice Guy is someone who:
  • Puts others' needs above his
  • Tries to be perfect and hide his flaws
  • Is not respected and gets taken advantage of
  • Is afraid to take risks and challenge himself
  • Is uncomfortable expressing what they really feel or think
One of the most interesting parts of this book was Glover's talk about 'childhood abandonment experiences'. Most Nice Guys had a distant father-figure in their childhood. Children naturally become distressed at not having their emotional needs met, and thus as a survival mechanism they try to eliminate their needs in order to receive love in return. However, if this quality sticks around into adulthood, it can cripple your professional, social, and romantic relationships. Humans are naturally selfish to some degree, so it is incredibly unhealthy if you approach relationships with an expectation that putting others first will earn you love or affection.
All in all, I highly recommend reading the book for yourself (I'm sure someone can find the ebook online and post a link to it). I can't tell you enough how much this book has helped me to recognize what has been holding me back from getting what I want. The alternative to being a Nice Guy is not to be an asshole, but instead to be someone who is self-assured, empowered, and goes after what they want.
  1. Develop integrity; be honest and truthful in all interactions
  2. Don’t be afraid of the world or trying new things
  3. Learn to surrender yourself and let go of what you can’t change
  4. Do what YOU want to do instead of trying to constantly please others
  5. Learn how to receive and ask for help without feeling guilty or uncomfortable
  6. Recognize that you and everyone else is human, has flaws, and makes mistakes
  7. Stop trying to be perfect and flawless
  8. Stop seeking approval and external validation
  9. Learn to approve of yourself, and treat yourself to the things you deserve
  10. Stop building walls that prevent others from getting too close
  11. Stop trying to cover-up or distract attention from any perceived shortcoming
  12. Reflect on the childhood events and conditions that influence how you act today
  13. Set boundaries to prevent people from disrespecting or taking advantage of you
  14. Learn to be clear, direct, and expressive with your feelings
  15. Spend more time around men in order to develop your masculine energy
  16. Recognize that women reject nice guys because they perceive them as weak
  17. Learn to be more passionate, assertive, independent, and responsible
  18. Stop putting pressure on yourself to do everything ‘right’
  19. Don’t let fear of failure or fear of success stop you from living the life you’ve imagined
  20. Make a conscious decision to make your own rules and not settle for mediocrity

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Robin Williams' death really bothered me

I am not suicidal. I am not feeling like I've lost direction in life. I am not pleading for the world to make sense. I just think it's interesting to reflect on how we make life decisions.

This post isn't about how I lost a childhood idol, or how saddened I am by the death of someone who brought joy to others. I could care less about Robin Williams himself. Nothing against the man but he never stuck out to me as one of my favorite actors. Instead, this post is about introspection, and how his suicide made me question my worldviews.

Let me give some background.

I am currently in a university under a healthcare major. Two years ago, I took a class called Introduction to Research in which we some of our laboratory based professors volunteered to come in and talk about their research projects and life experiences. One professor gave a presentation about his research on aggression. It was a strange topic -- how do you do research on aggression? How do you take data on aggression, quantify it, and publish an article in a reputable scientific journal?

The basic premise behind the project used mice. Place a single mouse into a safe environment, feed it, clean it, and after a few weeks it will be very content with its surroundings. The researcher then introduces a second mouse into the system. The host mouse will inspect the intruder, sniff it, circle it, and amazingly, without fail, they will begin to fight after a short period of time. Repeat this experiment over and over again with wild type mice and the fights will always happen. Aggression is then "measured" by several factors: how long it from introduction of the mouse to the system for the first fight to happen, how long the fights go on for, how many fights they have within a certain timeframe, etc.

But... if you repeat this experiment with a certain gene knockout mice line, the fights never happen. Feed it, clean it, and introduce an intruder weeks later and somehow this gene KO mouse will never attack the intruder. All of the control group (wild type) fought, and none of the experimental group (gene KO) fought. This is a huge difference.

So what are the implications of these results? Why am I telling you this?

These results suggest that there is something in a mouse genome that codes for aggression. And on a biochemical level, it suggests there is something in DNA that codes for aggression. Something in our genome produces something... a protein? A change in cell communication? SOME biomarker that causes us to change our behavior.

I might’ve gotten some details about the research project wrong, but this summary is roughly right. It really made me think. I had been going through a tough breakup at the time and this presentation put me into what I like to call a mini existential crisis. How much of what we do is controlled by our own thoughts and decisions? Versus how much of what we do is controlled by a balance (or imbalance) of neurotransmitters and hormones?

Our professor went on to give some more bioethics questions for us to think about. Suppose a man who has provided for his family and has always been an overall good person suddenly changes his behavior. One day, he sexually assaults a child. His family leaves him, he's never allowed to see his kids again, and he goes to prison. On the first day of prison, he gets a massive headache and gets rushed to the hospital to find he has a large tumor on his pituitary gland causing a massive imbalance of hormones. After removal, he reverts to his old self. He gradually begins to understand his criminal actions, how he has lost his family, how his life is ruined. For the first time, he shows remorse. What do you do with this individual? Do you keep him in prison? Do you release him only to risk something similar happening again?

Now let's apply this to Robin Williams.

He has been one of the faces of comedy for a long time. On screen, he brings joy to so many people. I understand he likely had some mental illness that messed up his balance of hormones and neurotransmitters, causing him to feel deeply deeply depressed. Three days ago he hung himself with a belt.

What's stopping like this from happening to my family, my friends, me, or even you? I want to think I am self aware. I want to think my family and friends are self aware (at least the ones I like). When my actions are decided not by my values and philosophies that I have learned and refined over my lifetime, but rather by my genome or current balance of neurotransmitters, how can I say that I am self aware?

How can I become a role model for a younger brother when, for all I know, he has extra repeats of a gene that makes him more predisposed to rape, murder, or suicide?

If I get into a car accident and get a concussion and my biochemical balance in my brain is skewed, am I really myself anymore?

Again: I am not suicidal. I am not feeling like I've lost direction in life. I am not pleading for the world to make sense. I just think it's interesting to reflect on how we make life decisions. There is no purpose to this post other than to open a part of my values and philosophies to the world.

Thanks for reading.