Dealing with uncertainty


As the year starts one of the sure things is that everyone is uncertain of how it will end. Someone is starting school and does not know how it will end. There is someone who is planning to quit his/her current job and start a new one and is uncertain how it will turn. A parent is taking a kid to a new school. Maybe you have moved to a new neighborhood or a new house. Another person wants to start a relationship and is unsure about the new partner. Uncertainty abounds everywhere where one is doing a new thing for the first time.Uncertainty can be paralyzing and hold one from making progress. Uncertainty is uncomfortable, but it’s a necessary step in achieving maximal creativity and reaching breakthroughs. Avoiding uncertainty may reduce short-term anxiety, but it limits our potential, leading to premature decisions and missed opportunities.

Below are some suggestions on how to deal with uncertainty derived from The Net and the Butterfly: The Art and Practice of Breakthrough Thinking, a book by Judah Pollack and Olivia Fox Cabane. 

 

Image result for Uncertainity

Source: Wikipedia

 

  1. Balance uncertainty with healthy habits. Uncertainty is all about risks and has to be managed with other less risky activities. Uncertainty can be balanced with healthy habits, rituals, and routines in other areas of our life. Create routines and habits that are predictable that act as a support system.
  2. Start small. When striving to form a new, positive habit, start small. Define the target habit or routine specifically and find a trigger to spur consistency. Create incentives for yourself, but anticipate that some level of failure will accompany the process.
  3. Don’t rely on will power. Willpower is not very reliable. It adds to uncertainty and frustrates certainty hence don’t depend on will power. When it comes to new habits, willpower is a finite resource. We cannot rely on it alone to achieve our new desired behavior. Create defaults and reinforcements to make your new routine easy. For instance, when starting to wake up very early and you not been used to you have to put on an alarm. In addition, you can ask a neighbor or friend to call you very early and make sure your are up.
  4. Practice uncertainty. There are ways to do this, including playing games like poker, chess, video games as well as naming and accepting the uncertainty verbally, or experiencing uncertainty in safe situations like at a movie or a sporting event.
  5. Responsibility transfer. It sounds complicated yet it is basically what majority do. In this case responsibility transfer is prayer.  Sit down, kneel or use other posture and transfer the responsibility to God(The all knowing and all powerful). Tell Him of all your worries and anxieties and leave them to Him to solve. This takes of the heavy burden of uncertainty from the individual and helps the individual to focus on other things.

10 things not to pursue


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There are things that one should not actively pursue or out more effort on them because they are subject to the laws of diminishing returns. This means that the more one puts effort to pursue the lesser the returns or the lesser the rewards. This is “The Backwards Law” which has been explained in chapter one of Mark Manson’s book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Mark Manson explains that a good experience is itself a bad experience; accepting a bad experience is a good experience. This paradox exists in almost all aspects of life especially those related to health and relationships. While some activities just require rote repetition such as driving, cleaning and hence more effort equal more rewards. Reward and effort in complex activities do not respond to this linear association. For such activities the more you work or focus on them the lesser the rewards. This especially works for activities which intertwine emotions, intelligence and effort. Pursuit of rewards in such activities results in frustrations because they obey law of diminishing returns. These are some of such activities and pursuits you should not be actively pursue because the more you pursue them, the more elusive they become:

  1. Control – The more desperate one seeks for control of others or of self the more control becomes elusive. the more one puts effort to control their feelings, moods and impulses, the more powerless one becomes. Emotional life is usually unruly and ungovernable and the best effort towards controlling it to put less effort in attempting to control it. Likewise, controlling and influencing others is very difficult when one puts a lot of effort to do it.  Conversely, the more ones accept others and their weaknesses the easier it becomes to control and influence them.
  2. Purpose – The more one pursues deeper meaning or purpose to their lives, the more self-obsessed and superficial one becomes. The more one tries to find meaning and support the purpose of others’ lives, the purposeful one’s life becomes.
  3. Freedom – The relentless pursuit for more paradoxically leads to less freedom. It is only by limiting oneself that experiences more freedom. It is only by choosing a few things in life that one is truly capable of truly exercising freedom.
  4. Happiness – Attempts and efforts to be happier results in unhappiness. It is in accepting unhappiness that one can find true happiness.
  5. Security – Attempts to be more secure produces more anxiety and insecurity. It is in being contented with insecurity that one feels secure.
  6. Love – The harder we strive to influence and make others fall in love with others the lesser the others accept and love us. In fact, the more we attempt to love others, the lesser we love ourselves. It is in loving oneself and accepting self that one finds love.
  7. Respect –  Respect should not be pursued.  the more one strives to be respected the lesser the respect shown. Conversely, the more one respect others without demanding respect, the more the others show respect.
  8. Trust – When one puts a lot of effort to gain trust, the less trust they gain from others. Instead the more one trust others the more others incline to trust one.
  9. Confidence – The more one strives to be confident, the more one heightens insecurity and anxiety. On the contrary when one accepts anxiety, faults and the more one becomes confident in their own skin.
  10. Change – The more one yearns for change, the more one feels that enough has not been done.  Whereas, the more one accepts self, the more one accepts stability, the more one grows and evolves.

These pursuits are less rewarding because they involve one’s mind. It is the mind that is responsible for pursuing happiness and it also the mind which is recipient of that happiness. The more effort the lesser the effect that is perceived by the mind.

 

 

Light tomorrow with today


   “Light tomorrow with today” Elizabeth B. Browning

 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Tomorrow depends on today. What you do today not only impacts today but consequences of today will be experienced tomorrow. Much pain that is experienced today is mostly a consequence of actions done yesterday. Resolve to take actions that will lead to better tomorrow.

Gather the firewood  and energy that is needed to light tomorrow today. Do not enjoy pleasures that will tomorrow result in pain and hangovers. Deny self that which will make tomorrow miserable. May your actions make better tomorrow. Some good actions may not result in immediate pleasure today but can make tomorrow better.

Two ways of living


Today I just want to share a quote by Albert Einstein.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is living as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein. 

 

 Each of this choices affect how one views life.

One of them is living as though nothing is a miracle. To live as though nothing is a miracle you have to be in control of every dimension of your life which is not possible.

On the other hand to live as though everything is a miracle you have to relinquish control and accept that you are not in control. You have to accept the surprises that life brings along and enjoy living irrespective of circumstances because everything is a miracle. 

 

Personal responsibility


According to Pereboom (2014) the personal responsibility is the capacity of the individual to make choices and dictate their actions and subsequently influence the consequences and experiences encountered in their lives. It is the willingness or readiness to be held accountable for one’s action or inaction because the individual is in control of personal actions and inactions.   Personal responsibility manifests in various dynamics which are discussed here in.

Image result for serenity prayer

  1. Having a deep sense of purpose. People who are personally responsible for their lives have a keen sense of purpose. They do not live anyhow because they believe that they have a purpose to fulfil. They therefore take actions and responsibilities that are aligned with that purpose. This helps them to effectively manage their time as their actions, hobbies and interest are all focused on the attainment of their purpose.
  2. Effective decision making. The second manifestation of personal responsibility is effective decision making. Being personally responsible means that one must work hard and work toward making choices that are effective and aligned with one’s goals and purpose. The individual who has taken personal responsibility knows that the outcomes depends with the decisions they make. The individual who has understood personal responsibility has to endeavor to make the right choices by consulting widely, reading and reflecting to ensure that they make value choices.
  3. No scapegoating. Individuals with personal responsibility do not blame others. They do not find scapegoats to accuse for personal failures and mistakes. They accept that they have made a mistake and choose to learn from that mistake. The individual with personal responsibility usually realises that blaming others will not solve the problem. They know that blaming others only makes them feel better for the moment but does nothing to solve the problem. Even when others have played a role in the failure, they strive to learn the lesson and find ways of rectifying the problem instead of blaming others.
  4. Self-acceptance. Not blaming others does not necessarily imply blaming self. People who take personal responsibility do not necessarily blame themselves for the mistakes nad failures they encounter. They recognise that some of the factors were beyond their control. Instead, the focus of personal responsibility is taking charge to identity and rectify what could have one wrong. People with sense of personal responsibility acknowledge their shortcoming and seek out help from others who are better positioned to assist. They do not give excuses to cover up for their shortcomings. Instead they work hard and identifying and acknowledging their shortcoming while working towards the improvements of the identified weaknesses.
  5. Continuous improvement. People who take personal acknowledge that change is inevitable. While status quo and comfort may be appealing, people who want to take charge and be personally responsible for their lives acknowledge the need to continuously make improvement. They continuously self-assess and self-evaluate in order to identify how they can make improvement in their personal lives or in any other aspect that could help them attain their goals.

In conclusion each individual has personal responsibility over their lives and all that pertains to it. Personal responsibility implies self-awareness about the influence that individual’s action has on one’s life. It is an attempt to be in control while letting go and asking for help on factors that out of one’s control.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr.

 

Reference

Pereboom, D. (2014) Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

How to be more optimistic at the start of the year


To have a fascinating start of the year one must have optimism. Optimism is seeing the better and the bright side of life. Successful optimists tend to be more include towards viewing the good things that are happening in their lives which empowers them to be more productive and focused than pessimists. The following are some suggestions on how to increase optimism in this year for better results.

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  1. Set long term goals and visualize yourself having achieved those goals. If you want to increase optimism you have to formulate very clear and certain goals and then visualise yourself having achieved those goals. This increases excitement and confidence as you will feel like an achiever who has already accomplished those goals.

 

  1. Record your progresses every day. Every day in the evening have a time to review and to think about the progresses made during each day. Write each small increment and progress as this enhances self-confidence.

 

  1. Practice gratitude. Each day practice gratitude. While still focusing on your goals, it is always important to pause and be grateful for the present. Feel happy for what you have. To manifest gratitude, make effort to visit and interact with the less fortunate and those in need.

 

  1. Keep the company of optimists. Pessimism is highly contagious and one must guard against pessimism. Even after setting goals and visualizing yourself having achieved them, and even after recording progress and being grateful, it is possible to slide back to pessimism if one keeps company of pessimists. To sustain optimism, you have to be surrounded by the company of other optimists. While pessimists sap your energy and motivation, optimists multiply your energy and keep you motivated with hope and words of encouragement.

 

 

  1. Be a lifetime learner. To be optimistic one has to make commitment towards learning. Make a goal to learn a new thing every day, every month, or every year. Have a commitment to learn something beyond your current knowledge as this keeps your mind active and equips you with the skills needed to achieve your goals. In fact, learning is the most practical step towards achieving the set goals.

May you be filled with energy as you pursue optimism in world that is full of negativity and pessimism.

5 resolutions to have in 2020


It is obvious that most people make resolutions for the new year. In fact, it is wise to make resolutions and have goals to achieve during the new year. There are resolutions that one can make and have a better year and have higher prospects of succeeding and finishing the year on a high note.

 

  1. Take stock and charge forward. Evaluate yourself and ask whether there were battles you won last year and also evaluate whether there were battles you did not win. Ask yourself some of these questions in order to honestly take stock and make better decisions during this year. Are any of those battles worth continuing? Why didn’t you win them last year? What can you do to win them this year? How can you make those things you liked most about last year happen more frequently?
  2. Commit to doing something new each month. The aim of this is to expand the scope of thinking and experiences. Do one new activity for one month consistently and then assess how the activity has impacted or improved your life. Some of the new things that one can commit doing are reading a book every day, writing a thank you note to someone. These new activities are likely to create new powerful habits that can significantly improve one’s productivity.
  3. Make a commitment to fitness. If you can, join a fitness club, an exercise group or a team sport. Join a fitness works better mostly because it involved a teas and involves other people that will make you accountable towards the attainment of fitness goals. The reason why fitness is a priority is because the demands of twenty first century and the lifestyle is making people live sedentary lives where they are seated all day long staring onto screens and food has become more affordable and available making one likely overeat. The lifestyle diseases are on the risk hence the need to prioritize fitness in the new year. Doing fitness with a team will not only make your workouts more productive, but they will also be more fun. Plus, you get the advantage of having others hold you accountable to your workout commitment.
  4. Practice the one-a-day-at-a-time principle. Don’t strive to do too much. Just do one thing at a time. You cannot make everyone happy all the time but you can choose to do something extraordinary each day. Find a customer, colleague, relative or a friend each day and do something remarkable. Resolve to use one-a-day principle in 2020 to make your business and life better.
  5. Develop financial discipline. Decide to make a budget for every month. Clearly record your expanses. Track your spending to take control of your finances. This will help you identify unnecessary expenditures that can be cut out while ensuring that additional income is saved and invested wisely.

The list can be extensive but it is better to have just a few resolutions which can be followed and implemented. Have a remarkable 2020.

 

6 books to read as you start new year


The following are books which I usually read when starting out a year to keep me focused and in check. The books suggested are from different authors and backgrounds. The books focus on different areas of life and provide perspective into life and work. The five books are:

Person picking book on bookshelf, Source: Unsplash
  1. One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. This is one of the best books to read at the commencement of the year. This book is special for those who want to improve and enhance productivity in the next one year. One of the greatest productivity concepts derived from this book is time blocking. Gary Keller discusses how productivity does not take much time. Instead productivity is about focus and intensity. One only needs to have an intense time (time blocks) dedicated to one thing which one intends to accomplish within the day before moving onto other things.

2. 5 Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware. Reading this book at the start of the year injects perspective into the year and helps one make reasonable yearly resolutions that encompass all dimensions of life. This books reminds you that life is not all about work or about self. Life encompasses many elements which must be balanced for one to live a great life. This book gives one perspective of those living at the final days of life and what they regret most about their lives. It informs one about the need to live a balanced life where one gives priority to family, friends, health, self and everything that matters.

Regrets of the dying cover. Source: Amazon

3. Abundance by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. The book highlights progresses in technology, education, healthcare, water, food and what advancement in each of these sectors mean for the future. The book is a great recommendation at the start of the year because it provides a huge dose of optimism at the start of the year especially at a time when the media is bombarding us with heavy doses of negativity and gloom. This book helps one to realise that the world is filled with abundance of opportunities and that resources are abundant and available for everyone. It just depends on the side of the glass which you want to see.

Quote from Peter Diamandis. Source: Four Minutes books

4. Smarter, Faster Better by Charles Duhigg the author of Habits. This book is about productivity in the workplace. It shows how one can increase and harness productivity by learning how to keep oneself motivated. The book shows how one can enhance productivity through teamwork, goalsetting, focus, good decision making, good absorption and utilisation of data. Reading this book at the start of the year equips one with motivation and knowledge on how to apply different strategies in order to remain smarter, faster and better in highly competitive world that values and rewards results and productivity.

5. The Bible and more specifically the book of Joshua. As one commences the year, one should be full of optimism and most importantly courage. The book of Joshua endows one with courage and ability to confront the giants and challenges that one is likely to encounter throughout the year. Just like Biblical Joshua overcame obstacles and possessed the promised land, the book equips one with immense faith to conquer giants. The book equips one with radical faith and self-belief in conquering obstacles that life brings along such as ill health, loss of loved one, job loss or reduced income.

6. Principles by Raymond Dalio. This book is a huge volume book and I have listed it last because if you are slow reader you can take three months or entire year before finishing reading it. The book is good start for the year because it has been written by an accomplished entrepreneur and founder of Bridgewater Associates. The main reason for recommending this book is because it is all about good decision making. It can enhance the quality of decision made throughout the year. Reading this book at the start of the year infects one with above average capacity to make good decisions. One learns about radical open-mindedness and radical transparency as key elements of making goods decisions.

As the old quote by Mark Twain said “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” May you have a book reading year.

I am back


After three-year hiatus from blogging I am now back with a bang.  I had taken off to other forms of writing other than blogging. However, I still felt the nag to write and share with my readers my experiences, knowledge, advice and also listen to their comments.  I promise you that I will write more and share more. Within the three-year hiatus I have learnt a lot, travelled a lot and experienced much which I would love to share with you. I have read scores of books which I intend to share reviews.  I have also missed the comments from my followers. In fact, one of the reasons I am back is because of an email from one of followers who made effort to reach out to me and enquire while I stopped blogging. While blogging may not be financially rewarding, the contribution one makes to the community makes it a meaningful aspect of existence.

The long break has helped me strategize and gather more meaningful content for my audience. The hiatus has reenergized me and equipped me to be resourceful in providing relevant and uplifting content. I intend to be making a post every week. I was surprised to find that I have only made 32 posts on this blog on its ninth year of existence. I will therefore provide more content by making weekly posts. I will mostly be posting content related to self-improvement encouraging people to read and study.  The content will be also be more appealing with accompanying images unlike previously when most of the content was plain and hard to read.  The posts will not exceed 500 words to make reading them easier. Thank you my followers for the many years you have followed this blog. In 2020 and beyond expect a vibrant blog that is full of informative and enriching content. I also value your feedback.

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