Categories
Misc Work

How to stop taking things personally

I’ve had this little list next to my desk and stuck in my notebook for the last week and it has really come in handy. I’m susceptible to getting upset at things people say (or in my work, type), eagerly taking someone’s innocuous ping and blowing it up to a personal affront to myself and my family’s security or wellbeing. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens more often than it should.

Of course this is ridiculous and I’m not nearly as important as I think I am. Someone else’s irritation, rudeness or strange behavior is not likely to be about me. To use a shiny new word I recently learned, I am not the omphalos of the world, or even my own house.

Anyway, this is a handy tool for putting things in perspective in any work or personal dealings that start to get under your skin. Credit to Recomendo where I first found it.

How to stop taking things personally

  1. Realise that other people’s rudeness is not about you. It’s a reflection of their own issues.
  2. Ask yourself what else the comment might mean. For example, if someone doesn’t smile or say hello, they might just be shy.
  3. Take comments or criticism in a constructive way. Ask yourself if there’s any truth to it? What could you learn?
  4. Take a different perspective. Ask yourself how an unbiased outsider would see the situation.
  5. Realise that you cannot please everyone.
  6. Know that you are not defined by your mistakes or criticism.
  7. Realise that your self-worth depends on you, not what others say about you.
Categories
Misc

Previously boiled water

A couple years ago, I read on the side of a box of tea that you should “always use fresh water before boiling. Previously boiled water has lost oxygen…”. The implication being it won’t taste as good. Or it won’t steep the tea as well. Who knows, really, but I believed it. I casually accepted this as fact and felt a little better knowing that I knew a little secret to making my coffee and tea just a little bit better than before. Fresh water! Sounds true.

Months passed, and I dumped many a pot of previously boiled water down the drain. Mostly, this was water that had been sitting out overnight, but sometimes it was simply water from a few hours earlier, still warm. Something in the back of my mind made me wonder if it really mattered (I didn’t seem to be able to tell in the slightest), and it felt ridiculous at times, but I brushed those thoughts aside and kept pouring, wasting time and water over-and-over again.

But recently I decided this “not knowing” thing is pretty dumb, so I did some quick research and found it probably makes no difference whether you use fresh water or previously boiled for your coffee, and, most importantly, I can’t tell the difference. So I stopped dumping then and there.

Belief and habit thus changed.

This whole episode got me thinking, how many other unnecessary things might I be doing just because someone or something said I should?

There are many habits and decisions we make where it truly doesn’t make that much difference to research deeply and find things out for yourself. If you don’t spend that much time on something and/or it’s not important/interesting/life-threatening to you, then you probably should just dump the preboiled water and move on.

But I enjoy my brewed beverages, and I spend a fair amount of my life making them, so this counts as something I should pay attention to.

Yes, this previously boiled water belief might seem like a ridiculous thing to mention. A small bad habit to break in the grand scheme of things that isn’t going to amount to much in the long-term and has little impact on my day. At least, that’s one perspective.

Here’s another: if you can’t change these small beliefs that seemingly don’t matter, how will you ever hope to change the big ones that do?

Categories
What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#21)

The later in life bloom: I feel like I’m just getting started now, and am about to reach 40. This week I came across The Art of Blooming Late and it definitely struck a chord. First, the set-up:

Rich Karlgaard, the publisher of Forbes magazine and author of Late Bloomers, argues that our culture’s obsession with early achievement dissuades us from pursuing our passions. Instead of having varied interests, studying widely, and taking our time—essentials for self-discovery—we’re encouraged to ace tests, become specialists right away, and pursue safe, stable, and lucrative careers. As a result, most of us end up choosing professional excellence over personal fulfillment, and often we lose ourselves in the process.

Then, my favorite part:

The authors of Dark Horse, Todd Rose and Ogi Ogas of Harvard’s School of Education, noticed the negative effects of early specialization in a study of people who came out of nowhere to achieve great success. “Despite feeling bored or frustrated, underutilized or overwhelmed,” the two write, “most dark horses reluctantly plodded along for years before finally coming to the realization that they were not living a fulfilling life.” Then, after a period of restless, quiet ambition, these seemingly average people—administrative assistants, engineers, IT managers—were able to transform their “cravings, predilections, and fascinations” into successful careers as master sommeliers, lifestyle entrepreneurs, and celebrated craftsmen.

I was also reminded this week that the legendary management author Peter Drucker wrote 35 books in his life, two-thirds of them after the age of 65

An interesting perspective on meditation as its popularity grows: The Problem with Mindfulness gives some perspective that mindfulness is a big term and certain aspects of practices put under this umbrella aren’t for everyone.

In a 2014 study, for example, Tim Lomas, a lecturer in positive psychology at the University of East London, and colleagues, found that a quarter of the 30 male meditators they interviewed had troubling episodes—some encountered hard-to-manage thoughts and feelings; some exacerbated their depression and anxiety; and some became psychotic. One guy, a beginner, tried out an advanced method of deconstructing the self. “I crashed, lying on the floor sobbing,” he said. “I had a really strong sense of impermanence without the context, without the positivity. The crushing experience of despair was very strong…You just feel like you don’t exist, you’re nothing. It’s nihilistic, pretty terrifying.” Some negative experiences were less intense. “Doing mindfulness, you don’t like yourself sometimes,” another man said. “You just become aware, ‘Actually, I’m a bit of a shit.’” Lomas and his colleagues concluded, “Our paper raises important issues around safeguarding those who practice meditation, both within therapeutic settings and in the community.”

I love music AND podcasts, but: Are podcasts killing music or just wasting our time? While many of my commutes these days are done with a podcast playing, I still often opt for music and sometimes even 10 mins of silence.

Quote that resonated with me last week: “Music is the space between the notes” – Claude Debussy

New music I’m listening to: Chemical Brothers – No Geography. Great album for doing work or a weekend afternoon with the kids.