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Human Beings’ superpower

One of the strongest super powers that humans have is the power of empathy. I don’t mean this in a wishy-washy way, but I do mean it in the sense that our powers of empathy is what allows us to sense what others are feeling at the time, which fosters cooperation. Cooperation in turn, is what has allowed us more than anything to succeed as a species.

Cooperation has allowed us to adapt to new environments and survive in the areas as diverse as the frozen tundras of Siberia and the scorching deserts of the Sahara. No other species in the animal kingdom can claim this ability to live in areas which span over this much diversity. Could you imagine a polar bear living in the Sahara? Yeah, me neither.

What I’m getting at, is the fact that because of our mental abilities we have been able to climb to the top of the food chain and get to a point where our biggest threat is ourselves and each other as opposed to other species.

So what is the point of this post?

It is to highlight what makes us uniquely human as well as to give you an appreciation of your own superpower, so that you might better understand how to use them in everyday life to better your own circumstances as well as the circumstances of the people around you

The gift of turning everything into a positive

The mind is a fragile and fickle thing, and without sounding too esoteric, it’s remarkable how much impact our thoughts have on our lives.

For instance, I have just had my second epileptic seizure in two weeks, and the reason I share this is because this is something I can choose to look at in a number of different ways. One way is to be super bummed out about it, and be sad that now I have to go on medication,

Another way to look it is to say that now I’ll be free from the large seizures as well as the smaller absence tics that I’ve had for the last 15 years, which has severely impacted my life, and that I now get to be rid of which is a massive positive.

The idea that we can look at things any way we choose is true for everything that happens at work, in our relationship, and with our children and family.

In Ryan Holidays masterpiece The Obstacle Is The Way he writes about how much we can change our lives by changing how we look at the events that shape our lives, and the point at which I’ve been able to use it most succinctly is with my condition.

I honestly feel happy that now I have a tangible diagnosis as opposed to a general, less treatable form of neurological condition which is simply a disturbance in everyday life.

The reason I write about this is because you and I can use this in all aspects of our lives. For instance – if you have bad things happen at work, you might use that as an opportunity to evaluate your work situation and find a job that is better suited to your skills and desires. Likewise if your relationship has become derailed it might be time to take a long, hard look at that aspect of your life.

This is far from easy, but that is exactly the reason why so few people do it, and why it is so valuable.

At the end of the day we all get to choose our reaction to the events that happen in our lives, and this realization is one of the most profound ideas I’ve come across.

If we make an effort to implement this in our lives, we can change almost anything we want for the better.

How to better deal with people

Get me out of here!

Let’s face it – there’s is not one end all, be all cure to how to deal with everyone, all the time, but there is however, a few things we can do to consistently increase the quality of our interactions with others. I’m sure both you and I can both think of a few times when we’ve met someone where we have rolled our eyes at that person, or wished the conversation to be over almost as soon as it began. We all have.

What’s interesting is that even though this is a natural reaction to other human beings sometimes, we can get so much more out of our interactions if we ask ourselves ‘what made this person act this way?’

If we try to understand why they’re acting like they’re currently acting even when it might seem outrageous to us, then we gain a deeper level of understanding of that person, and we might actually realize that we can both gain some value from this interaction.

Bless you

Another concept I’ve found immensely useful is that whenever someone is acting up, making a scene or being a complete nut-job I think to myself ‘bless you’. Or even better, I think to myself ‘I wish you well’. This has a tendency to spread positive energy and though it might seem a little new age-y I’m not asking you to grow dreads and get your Chakras mapped (yet). What I am saying however, is that the idea of wishing someone else well is a much better tool when it comes to interacting with people than it is to get upset with them.

I urge you to try it out next time you get upset. It can truly work wonders.

All the best

Nick

On gratitude and what’s important

There a few things we only recognize the value of, once we lose them. The value of our health for instance, is immeasurable, yet we tend to take it for granted until we no longer have perfect health. Ever since I was a child I’ve had small tics – absence epilepsy – nothing major, and nothing that needs to be medicated. This morning however, I had a massive seizure and had to be put in the hospital for observation. Thankfully, everything is okay, but the point is that there are certain things it makes sense to be grateful for – a kind and loving family, good friendships and especially our health.

My point here is not to beat you over the head with something you already know, but instead to highlight how valuable certain things are, and it’s worth taking time out every day to recognize that and to express our gratitude. One way to do that is to write a list of items we are grateful for every day in a journal, or on our phones.

Showing our gratitude daily in this way has massive positive impacts on our happiness, mental health and well-being. Specifically, Seligman et. al. (2005) found that showing daily gratitude can increase our feelings of positive emotions by up to 10%. Moreover, Lin (2017) found that high levels of gratitude has a strong positive impact on psychological well-being, self-esteem and mitigating feelings of depression.

The point here is that showing gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions, and the more we can do to express our gratitude the better off we will be. My own experience is that my own happiness has increased way more than 10% from expressing my gratitude on a daily basis – although it’s hard to quantify – and I would argue that this daily practice is the one single factor which contributes to my happiness and well-being.

I dare you to give gratitude a go, and experience the results on your own mind.

It’s not about the gear

When I was a kid the one thing I coveted more than anything was a pair of Nike Mercurial Vapor. To the uninitiated this was the most covet-worthy football boot for a young kid at the time. All my favorite players played in these boots, so naturally I wanted them as well. But there’s something more subtle going on here, which is the reason I wanted them, and the reason I wanted them was because I thought they would make me a better football player overnight. I figured that if I could get my hand on this one item, I’d level up and be able to play with the first team. Of course, this is not how things work, but it illustrates very well our want for shortcuts, and our ability and willingness to not doing the work. Because if I’d been willing to put in the work, I would have become a better player, but no amount of gear would get me there, and that’s the point right there. We tend to think that before we can start running we need to spend 500 dollars on running shoes and the right clothes, when really all we need is a pair of gym shorts a t-shirt and whichever shoes are somewhat comfortable to run in. We don’t need the gear. What we need is to start running. Start working. Put in the effort and not shy away from the work that needs to be done if we want to attain our goals. No matter, how much money I spend to get the same equipment as Stephen King that’s not going to make me a better writer – only writing will ever make me a better writer. Work with what you have. Put in the work. Improve a little  every day. That’s the way to achieve our goals.

The first questions

Writing is an act of love. An act of putting our heart and mind on a page. But it’s also an act of observation. The act of observing the world around us, through the eyes of a writer – our job is to catch the details that others miss. The idea behind this blog is cultivate the discipline to write on a daily basis as well to share interesting thoughts and ideas and observations about the world that each of us share. Sometimes the writing will be better than others, but isn’t that just the way it goes? Sometimes we’re more ‘turned on’ than others. It’s almost as if we have a mental switch that we can flick sometimes, the only problem is that that switch is really hard to find. That’s why I’m going to write and write and write in the hope that I’ll sometimes hit that switch, and that every once in a while what I write will be valuable to you, and my thoughts will be useful to you in your everyday life. It’s also an effort to make sure that I hit my daily quota of 300 words – something I’ve stolen from Anne Lamott, whose incredible work ‘Bird by Bird’ is not only worth reading, I’d go so far as to call it one of the keenest observations of the human experience I’ve ever read.

So what can you expect from this blog? You can expect to hear thoughts heavily influenced by stoicism, Buddhism and modern psychology. I’ve always been incredibly fascinated with the human experience – what some might simply call living, but also living well. Meaning how do we go about our daily lives in a way that is beneficial not only to ourselves but to others around us? How do we become men and women of value and still stay true to ourselves? How do we handle a life that is so fast paced it can take anyone’s breath away? How do we stay content and happy in a world where we are constantly bombarded by content? This blog is an attempt to answer those questions. Welcome. I hope you enjoy your stay.