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Saturday, 11 December 2010

A Glimpes of Beauty

If you have ever thought about why we find things and people beautiful have a listen to Denis Dutton, it seems it's not just a cultural norm but part of our evolution and natural selection

If you are interested to understand more about natural selection and artificial selection, of course you could look at the On the Origin of Species but I recommend Richard Dawkins' new book 'The Greatest Show on Earth, The Evidence for Evolution'(2009)

We can have 3 types of Love

If you think that 'love' is something you can create, manufacture, or just happens you will be interested to hear Helen Fisher outline some of the key elements of how we love a long term partner differently from some one that you find sexy.

So my question to you, how do you love the people in your life, who to lust after, who do you feel deep attachment and who stirs romantic love? (see min. 17-18 again)

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

to Be Cool or Be Productive?

These are the key elements of self understanding, knowing when to do nothing and when to act.
Lin Yutang's The Importance of Living contains observations of life's simple pleasures and spiritual happiness. His many philosophical quotes in the book include: "If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live,"
Of course this depends on the person, being productive, improving, relationships, knowledge, skills, health can fill a your down time.

What do you do to fill yours? 

Monday, 29 November 2010

Who Are You? I know Who I Am

Our passport may tell us our Nationality, the words we use may indicate our region and education; including our way of being. learning another language can help us communicate but is only half the picture, understanding cultural norms or attitudes is fundamental. Take Spain for example, roundabouts, introduced fifteen/twenty years go, they are often used like plazas people stop at the outside to pick up or drop off friends, the space is seen as a communal area. How we act in given situations changes who we are in that moment, and it's here where perhaps the English language is less clear. 'To be' and the sate of being can be separated in other tongues. So do you know who you are or being?

To know who we are it is useful to look at where we all came from, Richard E Nisbett, tells us in his book The Geography of Thought, that the Greeks started us off with their 'Pursuit of excellence', this is mirrored in the American constitution with 'the pursuit of happiness', the Greeks also lived in a landscape that didn't require too much inclusion, one man can take care of 'his' goats and trade with others, kick starting independence.
The Greeks invented school, for them it meant leisure time to develop themselves. So we could say that we have inherited the ethos of self improvement, if we think about why we keep fit and get a third level education, these are to help us compete, to be strong and independent. The Chinese however prefer self criticism, problem solving - how they can adjust to their surroundings. This we must confess as a benefit, the consequence means we are less disappointed when we get something wrong. For example the chess player that loses three times in a row and refuses to change tactics or study his mistake is blinded by self belief and isn't flexible.
Nisbett goes on to tell us 'Westerners are protagonists of their autobiographical novels; Asians are merely cast members in movies touching on their existence.' It would then be safe to say it's not about making yourself look good in the eyes' of others, but more about being perceived well if you think inclusively. Note, the only reflexive pronoun in Chinese is selfishness used to describe unwanted behaviours.

Do we need to change? Shouldn't 'they' change? Well unfortunately for the last five-hundred years the West has dominated technology and economics and this has made us rather Lordy. But let's look at an example of change, Archaeologists have changed their way of working instead of just looking at an object, they now look at what was around it, what was it's relationship with other things and locations giving a fuller understanding of past peoples.
We can start small though, if we think about the behaviours or 'selves' that we have, we change according to our surroundings, night-club, dinner party, lying on the sofa with a loved one, visiting grandparents, in fact the notion of self becomes void when we are 'with' people we connect with others and our state of being adapts. We can see this when a teenager is acting inappropriately on the bus or at the cinema, he hasn't yet grasped that this contrast isn't helping him or those around him. We need on a day-to-day basis to know what code of conduct suits the situation the problem rises when we 'act the maggot' or more commonly when we think too much about 'me'.

There exist today 'Robinson Crusoe' syndrome meaning that in our thirties we get full independence, and then isolate ourselves in our flats and cars. From birth until ten years old we move away from mum and in our second decade focus on friends, fitting into peer groups, first loves, then in our twenties we get some ambition and understanding of the consequences of our actions. Then we could, if we don't marry, live stranded between, our working selves and friend selves.
We like to compare and contrast, 'people watching' is a great pass-time. Most of this is making us feel better, my hair is longer than, I have a better education, she should go to the gym. We don't all need to have families and settle down, but we do need to give without expecting something in return, this is where love comes in if we do things for people we care for deeply without questioning our motives. 

'An educated man should, above all, be a reasonable being, who is always characterised by his common sense, his love of moderation and restraint, and his hatred of abstract theories and logical extremes'
Lin Yutang wrote this back in the 1930s, he was actually a bit of a lay-about, but any idea that uses common sense is desirable, though too much restraint will leave your engine clogged with carbon. Taking your foot off the brake and enjoying an afternoon of hedonism will do you the world of good.
We are talking about equilibrium. I person analogy, when I played chess with a friend he always remarked that once I had moved a piece forward I never wanted to move it backwards. However we sometimes have to 'go back' it's our linear make-up that we need to look at, we are not the whole wheel only a spoke that is connected to a hub and a rim and we need many other spokes to make that wheel strong. If I want to improve myself I need to look in a different way. (note 'I')

How many times have you heard the expression 'team player' this makes me laugh rather like the 'hearts and minds' expression how can a western target focused mind be inclusive if we have developed so much independence? This expression should actually be reworded to say 'Are you Eastern thinking?' Most of us are not but we could be, we can change our jobs, diet, timetable some culture would do us some good. Something very simple we can do is look at the words we use, you may have noticed that most of this text is written using 'you', 'we', 'us' and very little 'I'; self is an extension of that remember the word 'selfish'. If then we should think globally, and by that we are talking about the Earth's crust were people live, there is only 40 miles from the bottom of the sea to the end of the atmosphere we live in a very small pocket. We should know ourselves better.

I have just returned from the cinema, an environment that brings people together, we park in the same place and sit a few inches from each other. We can do this and but only if we all play the same game, being respectful, waiting our turn. Unfortunately this doesn't always happen, because some one steps too close or pushes in. Some of these elements come from a cultural norm. We can't play the game alone musical chairs doesn't work with only one person.
My visit to the cinema, seriously puts all of my argument in doubt. A fat man pushed me out of the way of the counter as I was receiving my ticket. I asked him if he understood the concept of 'personal space' he didn't. Disappointingly there is no way of educating pork if we change too much to accommodate we will be overrun by the herd. Which means, I am happy to do a U-turn with my point of view. It is idyllic, and as much as I appreciate the likes of Lin Yutang, an educated man is not the problem, it's all the other idiots.

If that was all a bit too much to digest how about a few comedy moments from the late George Carlin on the little things that make us all the same.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Monkeys On My Face - Eye Contact

Get The Look, but what is the Motive?
Politicians want to retain or gain supporters, James Bond, needs to dominate a given situation to stay alive and complete his mission.
You and I ?
I am not American and live in Europe, the work ethic is very different here, if you require a fuller understanding I suggest "The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream" by Jeremy Rifkin. Basically humanity is put before personal achievement.
So what is my motive for looking into somebody's eyes, maybe to it's to find out if the girl I'm having lunch with will have sex with me? I think not, if that was 'my' desire even the three minute look would only reveal that she is comfortable around me. Chris Rock will tell you that a woman knows in the first moment if she is going to sleep with you, she only hoping that you don't say anything stupid to break the deal.
Our daily objectives require, little eye contact, when we need something we get results - we haven't forgotten how to be human beings. We make eye contact with our neighbour to feel better about where we live, we make eye contact to get served in a bar, we can make eye contact as a survival technique, crossing a road, look into the drivers' eyes if he doesn't see you he'll hit you!
Let's not make contact with strangers with out motive, if you have been to NY or any other city this is a dangerous game you will just annoy that other person, even if you say hello or I thought I knew you.
'What you looking at!?' will be the reply or As they say here in Spain ¿QuĂ© pasa tengo monos en la cara?!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Common Sense Dressed Up

Here is the latest 'Lie to Me' episode, funny how a 'self help' mogul is under the dirty gaze of Lightman and his team.

Maybe all we need now and again is to be reminded of the two most important senses, Common Sense and a sense of humour!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Smile or Die

We have been looking at what motivates us and within that how we can change to improve our situation, exercise, diet, positive thinking.

But what if you think that's all a load of bull?

Being a realist is a good place to start, but why not take steps to look into yourself, ask yourself this question: how could I improve?

Start by identifying your weakness/es, what are you good at, what excites you??? Get these three things under control and maybe you'll be moving one step further than being realist without being delusional.
In short you need to start reading the 'me manual' understanding your 'needs' not your 'wants or obligations' but what will make you better person.