The Technologies Mind Rape

2 billion people use the internet everyday and internet today is the larger source of influence on such a huge group of people, on their daily thoughts and beliefs, religions and governments only dream about it!

But with great power comes great responsibility which big internet companies don’t really worry about. Our time and attention are their money and they have no ethics when it comes to persuading us to give them our time. To get as much of our attention as they can, they are employing experts, who know exactly how to take advantage of our cognitive biases and create systems that are way better at hijacking our instincts than we are at controlling them. To recognize whether we are being manipulated or not all the time, all 150 times a day we reach for our phone, would demand a huge amount of energy we simply do not have to spare.

The first person who warned us about this problem of big internet companies hijacking our brain and not having any ethics behind their actions was Tristan Harris. He used to work at Google as design ethicist and is now known as the conscious of the Silicon Valley. He is warning that science is coming up with new and new ways how to get even more of our time, more than what we are willing to give, but there is nobody taking care of our best interest. So we should do it on our own!

How does it work? When we receive notification and reach for our phone, we usually end up spending good 10-20 minutes of our time without planning too. And that is ok, if we have time, but what if we are at work or we are planning to go to sleep early that evening, when social media suddenly sucks us in the internet world?

We are trapped more often than we think we are and everyday experts are working harder to get our attention and keep it on their web site for as long as possible. And this is not going to change as long as our attention and time equal their money.

So what can we do to protect ourselves? First thing is to understand the problem, to know how does the hijacking of our brain works. Second thing is to admit that we have a problem, we are not excluded because we are too smart and have the best self-control ever. We are just one little brain with cognitive functions that leave us vulnerable. The thousands of scientists working against us, we don’t really have much luck to stand up. What we can do is to become aware of what is happening and limit the time we spend on the internet and from time to time find some other source of entertainment. Or use one of the apps and websites that help us control the time we spend and help us claim our attention back:

Here is the list of them:

  • Adblock (speaks for itself: it blocks out all the adds)
  • Mozilla Focus (allows you to delete your history right away)
  • Facebook purity (you decide what you want to see and what you don’t)
  • Rescue time (tracking time on each app and setting boundaries for certain apps of your choice)
  • Flight mode (during the night, when at work, with friends, family, studying…)
  • Ergonomy of the phone (delete apps from your home screen, place them in different folders so you don’t see them. Far from the eyes, far from the heart)
  • Consider apps you have (do you need FB app or twitter app on your phone—maybe use it only on your computer—this way less notification and better use of your free time).

Do you know any other ones? Please, share them in the comments!

Thank you in advance!

Check out Tristan Harris and his TedTalk.

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The Minorities’ Revolution

All around the planet the LGBTQ situation is kind of awkward. In some countries, they’re killed, in some others kinda accepted, but everywhere they are asking for more rights and recognition. And this situation is not the only one of its kind. There are a lot of minorities struggling to have more rights, and everywhere they have or had to face (sometimes violent) opposition.

So how do minorities get their rights and how can we as majority react to actual minorities concerns?

The problem arises when a group of people that we never saw before demand recognition. How should we react? Should we give all kind of rights to everybody just because they ask? Or should we never change the laws because they are good the way they are.

In all civil rights movements, we can observe at least two sides: The minority and The majority.

  • The minority is the group of people who require more rights
  • The majority is pretty much everyone else

Why does a minority want more rights? People, who share a culture, an ethnicity or a religion want to express themselves more freely and be equal to everybody else. There is probably a lot of these minority groups in your region or country without you noticing them. We usually notice them only when they ask for more recognition. Or more accurate: they DEMAND it! This was the case for African-American in the USA, for Slovenians during Yugoslavia, for Irish under the UK and for the LGBTQ movement right now.

What all the minorities have in common is their struggle before acquiring equality or independence. Most of the time a minority will struggle silently during years, decades or maybe even centuries. Eventually, their requests might be heard, but this doesn’t mean they will get what they want. Sometimes they have to persist during years, while sometimes the war will last ten days. Sometimes they will reach their goal and sometimes they will have to settle for less.

But why do minorities even want rights at this cost? Mostly so they can be who they are and have the same rights no matter who they were born to be. Because it is easier to change the society than it is to change your own identity.

PAST

On top of recent history stands African-American people who obtained their civil rights after a long struggle. They went from being slaves to free people and from free people to having equal rights as everybody else. At least on paper.

Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther, are just some of the names. We can read all about it in a couple of pages but the struggle for equality and rights of African-Americans is more than words and names we can read in a book. It is a puzzle of millions of people of all colors struggling.

In eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, same-sex sexual behavior and cross-dressing were totally unacceptable and were serious crimes sometimes ending with death. In the 20th century, there were many individuals and groups who wanted gay rights, but it wasn’t until the period after the war that the real fight began in the western world. The new social movements of the sixties, such as the Black Power and anti-Vietnam war movements in the US, the May 1968 insurrection in France, and Women’s Liberation throughout the Western world, inspired many LGBTQ activists to become more radical.

1973 was a big breakthrough: homosexuality is no longer mental disease in America.

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TODAY

In America today African-American and white people are supposed to be equal in the eyes of the law and have same opportunities.

Sadly, the researches show that this is not the fact in real life. African Americans who are arrested are seven times more likely to be imprisoned than whites; they are sentenced to death four times more often than whites, and the average prison sentence is 10 months longer for African-American men than for white men. It is also least likely for an African-American person to own a home compared to all the other ethnic groups in America.

Since 2001 a lot has changed for the better for LGBTQ. In 2001 the same sex marriage was legalized in Netherlands. Since then most of the countries in the western world have either legalized gay marriage or legal union of gay people. However, in some of the countries in Africa and Asia homosexuality is still illegal and gay people can face prison time, life in prison or even death penalty.

On the bright side, 2017 was a good year for transgender community as Denmark became the first country in the world to officially remove transgender identities from its list of mental health disorders.

FUTURE

Major changes do not happen overnight, but change is the only constant thing in our lives. Black people have come a long way since being enslaved but they still have a long way to go. Same goes for LGBTQ community. Things that are acceptable today could earn you a death sentence in the past. For some (minority) things are moving too slow, while for others (majority) things are moving way too fast.

MAJORITY POINT OF VIEW

Why is the majority so conservative, so slow to change their minds and so hard to convince?

Black people were brought from Africa especially to be slaves of white people. This doesn’t mean that all white people were bastards who wanted to enslave the black ones, it was just the way things were at the time. When black people suddenly wanted rights, this came as a shock. It sounds absurd today. But at that time they all thought that black people were worth less than white ones, and then the black people wanted to be free, have same rights and live the same life as white ones. It was a shock even for the progressive ones.

Same is true for gay people. Slowly it is more and more acceptable to be gay and to see gay people on the street. But it still comes as a shock to some, especially older people to see a gay couple or a family, let alone transgender people or any other group of people who are not fitting the social standards perfectly.

We also have to understand that when a majority has to give more rights to other people, they feel like they are giving up on their own like they are losing something that was just theirs before (which often they actually are). They feel like things are taken from them personally and so they fight harder to keep things the way they are. If black people can enter the same restaurant, less white people can find a table there and if the gay community is commonly admitted in society it is totally challenging the vision of the traditional family.

The majority is not part of the fight of minorities, they do not even notice them during minorities’ fight for rights. And as their struggle is usually long and hard, they become more aggressive. Once the majority notices them, the minority has already put on a good fight for their cause. This is why once they state their demands super loud and the majority hears them, those demands can trigger a negative reaction.

Which doesn’t mean the minority should stop, get desperate or start a war, but just understand that giving rights is not such an easy decision and when a minority asks for more rights it should do it precautiously and considering the majority’s point of view in order to be understood clearly and not be seen as a threat.

While on the other hand, the majority should always keep an open mind and be ready to participate in a dialogue in order not to reproduce crazy shit like slavery.

Check out our Youtube channel here.

 

The Creativity Secrets

Being creative has always been an important part of human life, but lately, we can hear people saying that being creative is hard, they are not capable of it and they have to learn how to be creative. How come? Aren’t we born creative? We are, but we often forget about it. Or we have a wrong interpretation of what is creative. And the world of internet and social media where we can compare ourselves to anyone doesn’t make it any easier.

Nevertheless, creating is not about being original as so many of us think. Because everything reminds us of something, everything we have already seen before in one way or another. So instead of trying to be original, let’s be authentic. Being authentic means being you, expressing your thoughts, feelings, and ideas. You are one of a kind and once you work on the idea and make it a reality, this will feel original. And will be appreciated.

So why even go to the trouble and try new things if we cannot be original? Because creating makes us happy. That is all!

Do what you are passionate about and your life will have a meaning, you will never have to work again and you will be happy. Some lucky ones always knew what they want from life. However, what about if you are not one of them, you don’t have passion, nothing is interesting enough to you. Maybe it is time to stop trying and just accept that you are never going to be happy… Or maybe it is time to be curious. Curiosity is the best because it is simpler than passion. It demands one thing—that you are interested in something. No matter what it is, start exploring that.

When it comes to being creative and authentic and curious, there is always that little (and sometimes big) voice in our head warning us: what if, how, why, what will they say, who do you think you are… Fear. When we are doing something new and uncertain, fear will be there. Evolutionary, it is here to ensure our survival, so just accept it and keep pushing.

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We are all creative, but we don’t all embrace our creativity because this means taking a step out of our comfort zone. But how can we turn down something that comes naturally to us and makes us feel happy and alive?

Stop reading and watching videos on how to be creative. You already have everything you need. What interests you at least a tiny little bit? Explore it and dare to be yourself!

Check out the video here.

Find the book Big Magic (which inspired this post) here.

 

 

 

Are some people really superior?

We share this planet with billions of arrogant monsters and these monsters live in each and every one of us. If in the past we could compare ourselves with a couple of people from our neighborhood or the village, we can now expand it to basically the whole planet. The Internet and all kinds of social media are giving us a wonderful opportunity to envy other people and at the same time feel like we are better than them.

So often we see the movies and read books where the world is divided into good and evil people, everything is black and white. But is it true? Are some people really better than the others? Are some people really superior?

This is one of the main ideas of the book Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. The main character of the book divides the world into weak, disposable ones and superior, super humans, who can do whatever they want with the rest of ordinary people.

This kind of arrogance is a big problem in today’s world and it is not something only certain people feel. We all compare ourselves to our neighbors, coworkers, the shop assistant and other drivers on the highway. So very often we feel like we are better, more beautiful or smarter than them, that we would do a better job than they any time given their life.

We all have something in our brain called mirror neurons. These neurons are responsible for our empathy—thanks to them we suffer when we see other people suffering and we are happy when we see very happy people walking by. We mirror their behavior and feelings. But that is not all. When people share our ethnicity, political views, religion or come from the same background, we tend to listen to them much more than to people who are different. The hack is that those people might have valuable knowledge to share.

We cannot define who is a good person, therefore it is impossible to define who is a better person. We consider people better or worse than us based on our own criteria, with our own limited knowledge.

Borders are separating knowledge, resources, and wealth (and humans). Many studies have shown that by opening the borders and letting people circulate as they please, we would improve the planet’s wealth from 67 to 172%! So what are we waiting for? Well, we are way too scared and arrogant at the same time to even consider it even if this would boost the economy and improve all of our lives.

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The answer that both Dostoevsky and self-improvement are offering is to be humble. We should stop judging others and comparing ourselves to them. Instead, we have to start listening to them. Nobody is over anybody. Humbleness helps to keep an open mind and improve consistently. There will always be something we can learn because everyone has his own story and her own knowledge. Actually, the more different people are from us, the more there is to learn from them.

To be the best, we have to stay open to everybody’s knowledge, opinion, and experiences. We are the same as our “stupid neighbor” or the African dictator. Human—living, and learning.

Check out the video The Arrogant Monsters of Our Planet here.
If you haven’t read the book Crime and Punishment yet, do it! Find it here.

 

Pain management and self-regulation

The book Search inside yourself by Chade-Meng Tan really blew my mind and taught me so many new things I just have to share it with you. Here is the video where I talk about pain management, self-control, where is suffering coming from and how to avoid it.

Often we think that self-control or self-regulation is about avoiding emotions, denying or repressing true feelings or about never having certain emotions. Even monks, masters of self-regulation, experience negative feelings from time to time. It is impossible to stop a thought or emotion from arising.

Self-regulation is about becoming very skilful with your emotions. What we have is the power of letting it go and the more you observe yourself, your body and thoughts, the more skilful you will become.

When the emotion appears, we feel bad because of one these two things: grasping and aversion. Grasping is when the mind desperately wants to hold on to. When we are so happy we are afraid of losing it.

Aversion is when the mind desperately wants to refuse or keep something away. When you are in pain you can only think of that and the world is going round because of your pain.

90%, if not 100% of all of our suffering is coming from those two things and could be avoided. We don’t suffer when we experience the pain (or maybe we do just a little bit), we suffer because we talk, think and feel sorry for ourselves; we want to push it far away.

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How to deal with pain for the better:

Know when you are not in pain. The pain is not constant, especially emotional. There is a small space in between when we can catch our breath and feel better. You just have to observe yourself.

Do not feel bad about feeling bad. The distress and negative emotions are natural—we all experience them from time to time. If you feel bad about something, don’t worry about it. Let it be.

Do not feed the monsters.

We cannot stop bad emotions from coming and we cannot force them to leave, but we can stop giving them food. What is their food? Their food is negative thoughts.

When you feel angry about somebody you start thinking about all the times he let you down or create a plan on how to revenge yourself or how you will show him who is the boss. This is the monster’s food. Once you stop thinking these stories and let the emotion just be in you without adding fuel, the monsters will starve and search for the food elsewhere.

Start every thought with kindness and humour. No matter how angry, sad or disappointed you feel, begin each thought with kindness and compassion for the other person. They are human just like you and they too make mistakes.
Even better plan is to laugh. Imagine yourself being a part of a movie and you mess up with your reaction.

Don’t take life too seriously, it is way too short for that!

Purchase the book Search inside yourself by Chade-Meng Tan here.

My very own Hygge

In the video on my Youtube channel, I shared why Danish people are the happiest ones and how we can all be like them. The key is not only to enjoy life but plan ahead. How awesome would our lives be if all day every single minute we would know that something relaxing and enjoyable is waiting for us later on…

If you want to know more about what Hygge is, here is the video.

Here I decided to share some of my daily routines full of Hygge. They are easy and simple, yet fill me up with joy every day.

Every morning I read in bed. I read self-improvement books, literature that can help me improve, grow and learn more about myself and the world around me. While I read I cover myself with a blanket and I drink plenty of water. I don’t just read, I really experience the moment.

After reading I write my gratefulness journal. Basically, I write what am I grateful for and what would make today amazing. This allows me to focus on my objectives first thing in the morning. I share this amazing experience with my boyfriend, this way we help each other to make the day great.

Something I don’t do daily even if I would like to is massage my face. I learnt how to do the Japanese facial massage and I used to do it every day until I got bored. Now I am just doing it every second or third day, on the days I really want to do it rather than forcing myself. Not only it makes me relax, enjoy the nice smell and feel my body working for my, I can also see how my face is getting younger J

Every day after lunch we go for a walk. Sometimes in nature, sometimes to the shop on the other side of the city to combine useful and healthy. Some days the walk is really long while others it is only 20-30 minutes. But knowing there is a walk waiting for me in the afternoon makes me so much more energised and relaxed all morning.

Every evening before going to bed I read and write again. It is just so relaxing to curl up in the bed and grab a book, knowing the day is over and you have finished everything. You are done and there is nothing more to do than enjoying those last moments of the day.

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Not every day, but at least a couple times a week I enjoy some kind of a warm beverage. This is either hot chocolate or tea. It makes me enjoy that moment so much more because I get to work while enjoying the warm fuzzy feeling inside of my body.

These are just the things I enjoy. If you are more of a beer person, make sure you have a cold beer waiting for you when you get home from work. If you enjoy running, make sure your clothes are clean and ready for you to hit the road. If you are a very social person, plan ahead and invite your friends over on a Friday night.

Remember, it is not just being in the moment and enjoying the little things, it is about planning ahead and knowing those moments are there waiting for you. This way you are excited all day!

Meditation and Science fight

The amazing, fascinating and mindblowing book of the week is Brain and meditation written by a Buddhist monk and scientist Matthieu Ricard and neurophysicist Wolf Singer. In their long discussion, they come to the conclusion that we don’t have a located “self” in our brain. What we do have is just a continuum made of cognitive reactions (a.k.a. a lot of stuff going on in our brain and we have no idea what it all means).

Therefore, with no self, there is nothing in your brain that is actually YOU. You are just a lot of things going on at the same time. You are made of your memory (that lets you think you are your experiences), your nerves (that let you think that you are your body) and your prefrontal cortex (that lets you know you are your thoughts)…

It took me some time to fully comprehend the fact that we have no self, no ego, nothing that is really me. Weird feeling… So take it easy.

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But what does it concretely mean that you have no self? And how can we apply that fact in our day to day life?

To understand and apply that we have to understand another thing first: synaptic plasticity. What the hell is that? It is the ability of your brain to literally change its form regarding on what you use it for. Which means that if you use a lot of your willpower, your brain will shape connections that will make it easier for you to use your willpower in the future; on the other hand, if you are procrastinating, the willpower is going to grow weak.

What it concretely means: we are not something definitive, our brain/personality is evolving each time we take a decision, each time we make an action. A junky living on the street who will move to be a monk in Tibet, will literally not be the same person anymore. And that is the book’s best idea: we have no self, we are just the result of very complex brain mechanisms.

And, wait for it, it also means we have no ego! Everybody is saying that ego is the enemy, that it is because of too much ego that the planet is going bad, etc… But according to researchers in neurosciences and to Buddhism, ego does not even exist. We just made it up! Why? Because it is an easy explanation for all the things we cannot understand about ourselves.

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Basically, our personality is not a constant thing, it is the result of numerous complex processes that happen in our brains, and each time you take a decision your brain changes its shape. So you think you are someone, you think you are your ego… but you don’t even have an ego!

And this understanding can change your life and even the whole world!

Think about it. If you have no ego, no fixed personality, then guilt, fear and other “bad” feelings instantly become useless. Because it makes no sense to say “I am a bad person”, “I am born under an unlucky star” or “It is too late now, I cannot change after all this time. I am who I am”.

If there is no ego, there is no reason to be offended. You are the one deciding to be upset because you think this is the thing to do. Because you think people are attacking you. But there is nothing to be offended about since you have no self. They cannot offend you. Eventually, you can feel anger, but even then you can decide to let it go and not let it control your mind.

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On a bigger scale, it means that a lot of wars can be avoided. Think about it, if there is no fear and no jealousy, it means there is no racism and no ressources conflicts. If there is no ego, we instantly tend to share what we have and we feel more compassionate for other people.

The best part about it is that it means you can be whoever you want to be. If you want to learn something, you can. No matter what it is, you simply have to do things that bring you closer to your goal and stop doing those that take you away from it. This way you will enforce your brain. And remember, by enforcing your brain you are shaping yourself. And if there is something you no longer want to experience, stop doing it. Eventually, this part of the brain will get weak and you will use it less and less.

So do not ever say again “I’m not good at something”. You can learn anything you want to.

We are not our emotions

Reading the book Search inside yourself blew my mind on many different levels. Emotions and how do we perceive them by default, compared to what they really are and mean, is just the first step to it.

Emotions are a basic physiological state. They appear in our body, we can feel the anger as our hands are shaking and we can feel fear when our knees get weak. We also feel joy when we laugh so much our stomach hurts. This is the proof that emotions are not psychological, they are physiological!

If emotions are just what I experience in my body, then feeling sad or angry is just like a headache. I feel pain but I can choose to control it or even ignore it. I can decide to still go out and go get some ice cream while I am in pain, as I know the pain will pass in a couple of hours or days.

It is the same when it comes to emotions. We can be sad but we don’t have to focus and act on it. We can do other things and simply wait for that emotion to pass. The more attention we give to that emotion, the more it will grow.

We are not our emotions. But let’s look at how we identify ourselves with our emotions.

We say I am happy, angry and upset. However, this is just the physiological state we are in. We are not sad or angry, we feel sad or angry because our body is experiencing physiological change at the moment.

If we are aware of that emotions eventually become what we experience in our body, so we go from I feel angry to I feel anger in my body.

I think this is a beautiful metaphor to know about yourself and to be aware of it every time when we experience negative or disturbing thoughts. It is all going to pass and we will be much better of if we consider them as the temporary state of mind, a dark cloud, which is going to disappear and maybe even bring us a rainbow.

Get your mind blown away as well with the book Search inside yourself by Chade-Meng Tan here.

 

How is the school killing the creativity?

School raises us to be factory workers. A hundred years ago the main challenge of politics was to find enough factory workers. School was the place to shape up and raise those much needed workers. They had to teach us enough but not to much, and they also had to teach us how to obey.

It is not an accident if school is like a job, not an accident that there are supervisors and tests and quality control. You do well on them—you get a new job (the next grade), continue being successful and you get a real job. Do poorly and you are kicked out of the system.

This way of producing “factory workers” was efficient when we had to fill factories, but our factories are now in other countries and the school had not changes their way of teaching (yet).

Let’s make something clear: factory workers is just a metaphor. If you work in a big office where you only follow orders and you don’t show any enthusiasm, you never take initiative and you don’t give things you are good at, you are also a factory worker!

The world today is different and listening to orders is not going to get you far. What school needs now is to create and what you need to be now is an artist. You need to learn how to take initiative instead of obeying to orders. You need to learn how to give the best you can instead of doing the minimum without asking questions.

School asks you to:

  • Take good notes
  • Show up everyday
  • Do like everybody else
  • Follow the rules
  • Be a generalist, not a specialist

The problem lies with the system that punishes artists and rewards bureaucrats instead.

We all know it, finishing school doesn’t guaranty anything. Finding a job is challenging and your education is not first on the priority list. What employers are really looking for are artists.

You can be an artist at your job. Artist are not just painters, artists are all the people that are dedicated to their job and bring in it their own personal skills. Artists are the opposite of factory workers. Factory workers are all the people that are acting like school ask them to act: following rules without asking any questions.

But the good news is that the factory worker system is, slowly but surely, dying and is letting room for the new artistic world. It is up to you to choose who you want to be. A factory worker in a dying world, or an artist in a rising one?

Purchase the book The Linchpin by Seth Godin to get more insight into the topic here.

When balanced relationship is failed relationship

The scientists were trying to determine the conditions of happiness and the discoveries are super interesting. They were measuring the quantities of the happy and sad moments in order to determine that. You would think it if there is 50 50 of good and bad we are neutral, not happy not sad. It turns out that when during the day we have 50 50 good and bad moments we feel extremely miserable. Even when the ration between good and bad is 1:2 we are still miserable. It is only when the ratio is 1:3 that we feel happy. So for a random person to feel happy on a subconscious and conscious level, he needs to have 3 good things happening to him to outcast the bad one. How crazy is that?

 

Well, that is not all. In a marriage the stakes are even higher. It is 1:5 meaning that we need 5 times more good things happening to us to compensate for one bad one. If our partner does 4 nice things but says one wrong sentence we are going to feel bad and our day will feel like shit. Talking about high expectations! Maybe this is the reason why there are more and more divorces, because we simply expect our partner to be more than perfect. Do we also expect so much from ourselves is another question…

Get the book by John Gottman: 7 principles for making marriage work here.

Check out our YouTube channel for more simple quick fix ideas here.