Posts Tagged "reflecting"

Why spreading yourself too thin is such a beguiling trap (thanks FOMO) and what to do about it

Posted on Feb 3, 2014 | 0 comments

Why spreading yourself too thin is such a beguiling trap (thanks FOMO) and what to do about it

As I make my own Slow transition, I have been reflecting on just how thin I had been spreading myself, the detrimental effects of this, why it occurs and how to correct it. Along the lines of my habit, intention and routine blog posts, I’ve had to face the fact that trying to do everything, no matter how awesome those things are, leads to only half doing everything. which is frustrating at best, and can be depressing. Carl Honore describes this as doing everything hurriedly and nothing well, a symptom of Fast culture. Slowing down in order to regain a sense of control1 and mastery2, both fundamentally important to health and happiness, was certainly one of my motivations for the project. Here is a saying that has stuck with me for years: “Happiness is simple, simplicity is difficult” Life is amazing and there’s so much cool stuff to do! Yes but spreading yourself too thin leads to half-finished tasks, multitasking (which is not actually multitasking it is dividing and losing your attention) hobbies you never master and stay stuck at the ‘beginner’ level, not being able to fully get in the moment with these activities, and grass is greener thinking which leads you to switching activities in case something else is better, and the cycle continues. Remember this: if you don’t have attention, you don’t have time3  How does this occur? We live in a hyper connected world where we are constantly presented with options and choices, and moreover we can see what other people are doing so much more than ever before. We are social creatures and are hardwired to compare ourselves to others which has a significant effect on our happiness. Consider this point from Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less; when you consider or are presented with more options you experience more buyer’s remorse and the outcome is less fulfilling. I’m pretty darn sure this transfers over to experiences not just material objects. Heard of FOMO before? That is the twitter-friendly acronym for ‘fear of missing out.’ FOMO has become quite a phenomenon in itself, noticeably aggravated by heightened awareness of how much is going on thanks to social media. But thanks to the acknowledgement of this as a phenomenon, a distinct backlash against it has been enabled. Check out this article on the Joy of Missing Out. This is the double-edged sword of the privilege; there is so much we could do, how do you content yourself with only a small fraction of the buffet? It doesn’t help that we live in a Fast-dominated culture where we are groomed to take on a ‘do everything’ mentality. What happened to down-time?! The value of rest and reflection has been somewhat forgotten along the way. What can we do about it?  Some people I know really seem to be able to take on a significantly larger number of things and thrive. So I’m not trying to say just do less full stop (Slow is about ‘just right’, not extremes), but in our Fast-dominated culture there is certainly a tendency to err to the side of too much. There is no magic formula determining how many hobbies you should have, how many times per week you should see your friends etc; it is up to you to be true to yourself, reflect (a lot, I’m realising) and make the changes, even if initially uncomfortable, that bring meaning and happiness to your life. Although there is truth in it, “learning to say no” is overly simplistic. Teasing out what are the things to devote time to...

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Having intention vs living with intention

Posted on Jan 20, 2014 | 0 comments

Having intention vs living with intention

Leading up to the New Year, I had planned to write a substantial blog post on intention setting. As the time drew nearer however I became increasingly anxious about that. Not because I couldn’t write about the theory and practice of intention setting, but because I still feel there is a decent gap between I intend to be and where I am. I felt like I would be being disingenuous writing about intention setting from this state. But then I remembered that the point of this phase of the project is to use my story of transformation to help others, not from the point of view of ‘expert’! I also realised what a difference there is between having intention and living with intention.  I already had a strong intention when I had the idea for the Slow Project. As I mentioned in this post, I was actively searching for a way I could contribute using my strengths, experience and interest. I had already done a lot of reflecting and sketching out of rough ideas. With the intent so clear it seemed completely natural when the inspiration and idea for the Slow Project occurred. What came next was me learning about how I had to transform myself in order to deliver on this intent. After a while, when I thought I had done quite a lot of learning about the importance of routine and removing the need to decide on things that don’t matter, I was waiting for my behaviour to all fall into place. And I waited some more. And then I got frustrated at myself. This frustration was the gap between my intent and how I was living day to day. So finally (yes I was impatient, but as I mentioned I need this Slow transition myself!), I began to implement small steps to help bridge that gap, instead of expecting it to happen all at once. Let me share with you the top 3 things that have helped me keep my intention closer (still integrating and adjusting with these practices) to me as I move throughout my day: 1. Begin each morning consciously  This means spending a few moments centring yourself and refreshing your intent. Quite a few practices can help here, I have mostly experimented with yoga, breathing exercises and visualisation to reconnect with my long term sense of purpose and intent for the coming day. 2. Decide what are the three or four most important things to achieve each week I have untold numbers of lists of ‘important’ things to do. By focussing on what the most important few things this week are it has helped me recognise everything else as a distraction. I use this weekly list in my morning visualisation. Next I will write it down a piece of paper and carry it around with me since I tend to do work in various locations. 3. Practice just in time information, not just in case information This was, and continues to be, a big one for me. I love getting creative and generating option after option. So I’m drawn to doing a lot of reading and exploring about the topic. If this searching is not focussed however, your brain ends up swimming. Much more effective is to recognise when you are ready to stop intaking and start creating and limit your information intake to only that which is immediately relevant. Aside from being more effective when utilising these practices, there have been surprising benefits: synchronicity – those ‘wow that couldn’t be just chance’ moments have increased increased ability to turn down distractions and...

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3 phases of Slow habit-hacking

Posted on Dec 19, 2013 | 0 comments

3 phases of Slow habit-hacking

Habits are repeated patterns of behaviour that we have become sufficiently familiar with that we pass the job of initiating that behaviour over to the subconscious. Before a habit is undertaken there is a trigger that tells your subconscious to run the habitual behaviour and the habit in turn has a consequence of providing you with a reward, for example avoidance of boredom or stress. We’ll cover a few topics here: Slow Thinking and Fast Thinking systems (just the basics) & how habits fit Why the Slow Project is interested in habits What Slow would recommend for habit hacking Slow Thinking, Fast Thinking & Habits In his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, eminent psychologist Daniel Kahneman describes two systems of thinking: System 1: Fast Thinking – intuitive, subconscious, operates quickly and automatically with little or no effort or sense of voluntary control System 2: Slow Thinking – conscious, rational, requires effort and attention Although Kahneman does not tackle habits directly in this book, the two system framework of understanding our decision making hardware is relevant to habits especially when looking at them through a Slow lens. A few keys points to note are that: We like to think that most of our thinking happens in System 2. This is false. System 1 does the heavy lifting (we are not ‘homo rationalis’). Even when we do use Slow Thinking, the impressions and feelings that are the main sources of explicit beliefs and choices of System 2 originate in System 1. System 2 takes a huge amount of effort to utilise. Think how hard it is to maintain a continuous train of thought. If we can get away with it, we pass on as much work to System 1 as possible. “Thinking is the hardest work there is, that is why so few people engage in it.” Habits are part of our Fast Thinking system. Studies show that self control and deliberate thought draw from the some pool of available effort. Ever noticed that your ability to forego your vices is significantly less after a busy day? “The operations of System 1 are governed by habit so they’re difficult to either modify or control.” You can read a lengthier article by Kahneman on the two systems here. Habits serve an important function because we only have a certain reserve of cognitive energy to use on conscious, deliberate thought. We are wired for habits for the sake of economy of thought, otherwise we would waste time and energy worrying about things that do not matter very much. This makes sense; I’ve got better things to use my limited System 2 thought budget on than re-thinking how and when to brush my teeth. Our brain is interested in paying attention to novelty. Once we have become familiar with something, including our own behaviour, and comforted that it does not pose a risk to us, we relegate it to our Fast Thinking system. Habits can, however, take over areas of our lives that we do not want them to. Why the Slow Project is interested in habits I am passionate about living fully as your authentic self as I discussed here. Habits can prevent us from realising that potential. Instead of experiencing discomfort that comes from change, we follow urges to go with the familiar and a comfort zone is created. However that comfort zone can prevent us from doing our best work and from truly seeing, experiencing and learning (check out this clip on experiencing awe and how comfort zones act a as a barrier). Remember that System 1 is governed by habits...

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Message 2 from Slow to changemakers: proximal stability before distal mobility

Posted on Dec 9, 2013 | 0 comments

Message 2 from Slow to changemakers: proximal stability before distal mobility

“Proximal stability before distal mobility” means that for an organism to create motion at the extremities of its system, it must first have a stable core. I came across this notion as a therapist. As an example, this would be applied when determining and working on hand writing difficulties; often the culprit would be an under-performing core. I’ve been thinking about this saying recently on the individual level in relation to a few of my favourite activities. I fell in love with rock climbing earlier this year. Straight away I was struck by how instructive rock climbing is in regards to change and stressful situations. Climbing is a rhythmic pattern of centre and move, centre and move. You must mentally and physically balance and yourself before executing a move, otherwise fear, distraction or poor balance will literally be your downfall. As a contrasting example, consider coping with change. Feeling stable in yourself reduces feelings of stress when there is a lot of change on the external environment and improves resilience. You can adapt and take advantage of change. Now consider being a changemaker where the ‘mobility’ we’re talking about is being able to act upon the outside world.  Here I consider there three main lessons about proximal stability. Firstly, when you are proposing changes it is vital that other people trust you. People who are authentic, whose behaviours are aligned to who they really are, engender trust. We can sense when what people are saying is incongruent with values they reflect but also I think this sensing of incongruence also occurs even when those doing the talking are not even consciously trying to represent themselves in a false way. People sense authenticity, so don’t just think you mean what you say, know you mean what you say. Seondly, as social creatures, we all to some extent have developed ways to routinely suppress non-conforming behaviours which risk social rejection. This is wise in certain settings but it also means that we can get in the habit of avoiding individual thought without even realising it. I was very impressed by Gretel Killeen at the 2013 Happiness and Its Causes Conference when she spoke about finding and using your authentic voice. She made that point that how can you even speak your mind when you don’t know what is in it? We need to be aware of our tendencies for suppressing authenticity and actively work at cultivating it, starting from discovering who you really are. Lastly, it will sometimes take bravery to be authentic. When advocating something other than status quo, you will find your detractors. This Machiavelli quote sums it up: “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” A powerful point Killeen made was, “There are people in the world who struggled in order to speak their minds and paid a huge price for it. We, on the other hand, forfeit our chance to think and speak.” Worth contemplating as we honour Nelson Mandela after his passing. So be brave! There is no other you on this planet, so please, give us your uniqueness and take a risk for what you believe in. Out tendency to conform also goes back to the first point on trust. Why do we not use our voice and instead conform? She says, “…maybe we are just scared of what others think of us if we speak our minds. By presenting a perfect image of ourselves, we hide our true...

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