Mindful Stew

“I suppose it’s possible I’ll lie on my deathbed regretting that I didn’t work harder and say everything I had to say, but I think what I’ll really wish is that I could have one more beer with Chris, another long talk with Megan, one last good hard laugh with Boyd. Life is too short to be busy,” concludes Tim Krieder in a New York Times opinion piece from last summer.

Krieder laments that everyone seems busy–too busy to call or text back, too busy to go watch the football game and eat wings on a Sunday afternoon, too busy to exercise, date, and too busy to carve out unstructured time in any form.  I agree with his assertion, but I also recognize that he writes from a position of privilege–after all, he’s managed to make a living as a writer working 4-5 hour days.  Unemployment is an issue for…

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A Nice Ring to It

“Hey.”

Not a particularly welcoming salutation. Not unfriendly, but no enthusiasm. It’s firm. Finite. Is he mad?

“Hey”

This one’s completely different. It’s casual. The lack of punctuation says, “I’m on the go — Just didn’t have time for that little dot!”

If you find this analysis over-the-top and slightly nauseating, I’m with you, but there’s nothing I can do about it — I perpetuate the practice daily.

In a world where we’d rather text than pick up the phone and risk having to actually talk to someone, this kind of decoding is commonplace … dare I say, necessary. So many subtle nuances of conversation are simply absent in texting. It takes the human element out of communication — something inherently human. And, if you’re like me, you feel the need to fill the void.

Take this interchange with my boyfriend I recently had via text message:

Chris: “I dunno…

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Bertram's Blog

I haven’t been writing much about grief lately. It’s been thirty-two months — 977 days — since my life mate/soul mate died. In that time, many others have suffered grievous losses, and to continue mentioning my grief seems like all I’m doing is whining. Still, this is my loss, and what other people experience, no matter how horrific, doesn’t lessen my sorrow. I don’t have the same sort of raw pain that I did at the beginning, of course, nor do I have the gut-wrenching angst that so often bedeviled me during those first months, but I do experience bouts of sadness and yearning.

My emotions are on a slow Ferris wheel ride, usually sliding down into sadness on Saturdays, the day he died — a day that apparently is etched in my very psyche — and then a gradual climb to hope and possibility on Monday and Tuesday.

Even when…

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Republic, The 1st Book: To Act Justly

“May I ask whether by ‘friends’ you mean those who seem to be worthy [of friendship] or those who really are so, even if they do not seem to be — and the same goes for enemies?”
“It is likely,” Polemarchus said, “that men love those whom they suppose to be good and dislike those whom they deem bad.”
“Do not men make mistakes in this matter so that many people seem good to them who are not and vice versa?”
“They do.”
“For those men who make this error, good people are their enemies and bad people are their friends?”
“Certainly,” he said.
“But it is then wholly just for the men to benefit the bad and harm the good?”
“It would seem so.”
“Yet the good are just and incapable of injustice.”
“True.”
“On your reasoning, then, it is just to wrong those who do no injustice.”
“No, no, Socrates, that reasoning cannot be right,” he said. (Rep. I, 334c-d)

Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations

6th Book: V. The best kind of revenge is, not to become like unto them.

7th Book: IV. Word after word, every one by itself, must be the things that are spoken be conceived and understood; and so the things that are done, purpose after purpose, every one by itself likewise. And as in matter of purposes and actions, we must presently see what is the proper use and relation of every one; so of words must we be as ready, to consider of every one what is the true meaning, and signification of it according to truth and nature, however it be taken in common use.

V. Is my reason, and understanding sufficient for this, or no? If it be sufficient, without any private applause, or public ostentation as of an instrument, which by nature I am provided of, I will make use of it for the work in hand, as of an instrument, which by nature I am provided of. If it be not, and that otherwise it belong not unto me particularly as a private duty, I will either give it over, and leave it to some other that can be better effect it: or I will endeavour it; but with the help of some other, who with the joint help of my reason, is able to bring somewhat to pass, that will now be seasonable and useful for the common good. For whatsoever I do either by myself, or with some other, the only thing that I must intend, is, that it be good and expedient for the public. For as for praise, consider how many who once were much commended, are now already quite forgotten, yea they that commended them, how even they themselves are long since dead and gone. Be not therefore ashamed, whensoever thou must use the help of others. For whatsoever it be that lieth upon thee to effect, thou must propose it unto thyself, as the scaling of walls is unto a soldier. And what if thou through either lameness or some other impediment art not able to reach unto the top of the battlements alone, which with the help of another thou mayst; wilt thou therefore give it over, or go about it with less courage and alacrity, because thou canst not effect it all alone?

XII. Whatsoever any man either doth or saith, thou must be good, not for any man’s sake, but for thine own nature’s sake; as if either gold, or the emerald, or purple, should ever be saying to themselves, Whatsoever any man either doth or saith, I must still be an emerald, and I must keep my colour.

XXXV. What pain soever thou art in, let this presently come to thy mind, that it is not a thing whereof thou needest to be ashamed, neither is it a thing whereby thy understanding, that hath the goverment of all, can be made worse. For neither in regard of the end of it (which is, to intend the common good) can it alter and corrupt it. This also of Epicurus mayst thou in most pains find some help of, that it is “neither intolerable, nor eternal,” so thou keep thyself to the true bounds and limits of reason and give not way to opinion. This also thou must consider, that many things there be, which oftentimes unsensibly trouble and vex thee, as not armed against them with patience, because they go not ordinarily under the name of pains, which in very deed are of the same nature of pain, as to slumber unquietly, to suffer heat, to want appetite: when therefore any of these things make thee discontented, check thyself with these words: Now hath pain given thee the foil; thy courage hath failed thee.

8th Book: XLI. Why should I grieve myself; who never did willingly grieve any other! One thing rejoice one and another thing another. As for me, this is my joy, if my understanding be right and sound, as neither averse from any man, nor refusing any of those things which as a man I am subject unto; if I can look upon all things in the world meekly and kindly; accept all things and carry myself towards everything according to true worth of the thing itself.

L. “They kill me, they cut my flesh; they persecute my person with curses.” What then? May not thy mind for all this continue pure, prudent, temperate, just? As a fountain of sweet and clear water, though she be cursed by some stander by, yet do her springs nevertheless still run as sweet and clear as before; yea though either dirt or dung be thrown in, yet is it no sooner thrown, than dispersed, and she cleared. She cannot be dyed or infected by it. What then must I do, that I may have within myself an overflowing fountain, and not a well? Beget thyself by continual pains and endeavours to true liberty with charity, and true simplicity and modesty.

LVI. All men are made one for another: either then teach them better, or bear with them.

9th Book: IV. He that sinneth, sinneth unto himself. He that is unjust, hurts himself, in that he makes himself worse than he was before. Not he only that commiteth, but he also that omitteth something, is oftentimes unjust.

IX. Either teach them better if it be in thy power; or if it be not, remember that for this use, to bear with them patiently, was mildness and goodness granted unto thee. The Gods themselves are good unto such; yea and in some things, (as in matter of health, of wealth, of honour), are content often to further their endeavours: so good and gracious are they. And mightest thou not be so too? or, tell me, what doth hinder thee?

XVI. Sift their minds and understandings, and behold what men they be, whom thou dost stand in fear of what they shall judge of thee, what they themselves judge of themselves.

10th Book: XIII. What use is there of suspicion at all? or, why should thoughts of mistrust, and suspicion concerning that which is future, trouble thy mind at all? What now is to be done, if thou mayest search and inquiry into that, what needs thou care for more? And if thou art well able to perceive it alone, let no man divert thee from it. But if alone thou doest not so well perceive it, suspend thine action, and take advice from the best. And if ther be anything else that doth hinder thee, go on with prudence and discretion, according to the present occasion and opportunity, still proposing that unto thyself, which thou doest conceive most right and just. For to hit that aright, and to speed in the prosecution of it, must needs be happiness, since it is that only which we can truly and properly be said to miss of, or miscarry in.

XVI. Give what thou wilt, and take away thou wult, saith he that is well taught and truly modest, to Him that gives, and takes away. And it is nit out of a stout and peremptory resolution, that he saith it, but in mere love, and humble submission.

XXX. When thou art offended with any man’s transgression, presently reflect upon thyself; and consider what thou thyself art guilty of in the same kind. As that thou also perchance dost think it a happiness either to be rich, or to live in pleasure, or to be praised and commended, and so of the rest in particular. For this if thou shalt call to mind, thou shalt soon forget thine anger; especially when at the same time this also shall concur in thy thoughts, that he was constrained by his error and ignorance so to do: for how can he choose as long as he is of that opinion? Do thou therefore if thou canst, take away that from him, that forceth him to do as he doth.

tom.basson

I have recently finished reading “Your Brain at Work” by Dr David Rock, and I can honestly say that, out of all the leadership books I have read, it is has had the most profound and significant impact on how I think and work, and on how I relate to the people I work with.

“This book will help you work smarter, be more focused and productive, stay cool under pressure, reduce the length of meetings, and even tackle the hardest challenge of all: influencing other people.” – Dr David Rock.

The book delves into the neuroscience of the brain, but does so in a way that is relevant, accessible, and easy to understand. Rock believes that “Your capacity to change yourself, change others, and even change the world, may boil down to how well you know your brain.”

The book is centered around three main insights:

1) Conscious thought is a finite resource; and…

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tom.basson

On Monday I reviewed the game-changing book “Your Brain at Work” – by David Rock. The techniques offered in this book are solidly grounded in research, but what makes the book stand out is that the author does such a great job in explaining the neuroscience behind the ordinary working of the brain and the practical impact of it, that these simple strategies seem to arise naturally – and best of all they stay with the reader. Here are a few key takeaways for me from the book:

Surprises About the Brain

  • Every time the brain works on an idea consciously, it uses a measurable and limited resource.
  • The less you hold in your mind at once the better.
  • Switching between tasks uses energy; if you do this a lot you will make more mistakes.
  • If you do multiple conscious tasks at once you will experience a big…

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