Love Is Not Enough For Us

What is Love?

Love is one of the most profound emotions we experience as humans. It’s bigger than us, meaning, though we can invite it into our lives, we do not have the control over the how, when and where love starts to express itself. Maybe that’s why 72% of people believe in love at first sight. Sometimes, love truly does strike like a bolt of lightening to the chest, and you aren’t prepared for it.

Since love is inherently free, we spend nights tossing and turning in an attempt to understand what it is, and how to know if we have it. How do you define something so uncontrollable and versatile?

That’s the tricky thing about love, we can feel it in a variety of different states–when we’re happy, sad, angry, confused or excited–and our attitudes about love can range from affectionate love, to infatuation and pleasure. We even use love as an action, as a force to keep our relationships with partners, or friends and family, together.

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In 1967, John Lennon wrote a song called, “All You Need is Love.” He also beat both of his wives, abandoned one of his children, verbally abused his gay Jewish manager with homophobic and anti-semitic slurs, and once had a camera crew film him lying naked in his bed for an entire day.

Thirty-five years later, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails wrote a song called “Love is Not Enough.” Reznor, despite being famous for his shocking stage performances and his grotesque and disturbing videos, got clean from all drugs and alcohol, married one woman, had two children with her, and then cancelled entire albums and tours so that he could stay home and be a good husband and father.

One of these two men had a clear and realistic understanding of love. One of them did not. One of these men idealized love as the solution to all of his problems. One of them did not. One of these men was probably a narcissistic asshole. One of them was not.

In our culture, many of us idealize love. We see it as some lofty cure-all for all of life’s problems. Our movies and our stories and our history all celebrate it as life’s ultimate goal, the final solution for all of our pain and struggle. And because we idealize love, we overestimate it. As a result, our relationships pay a price.

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When we believe that “all we need is love,” then like Lennon, we’re more likely to ignore fundamental values such as respect, humility and commitment towards the people we care about. After all, if love solves everything, then why bother with all the other stuff — all of the hard stuff?

But if, like Reznor, we believe that “love is not enough,” then we understand that healthy relationships require more than pure emotion or lofty passions. We understand that there are things more important in our lives and our relationships than simply being in love. And the success of our relationships hinges on these deeper and more important values.

THREE HARSH TRUTHS ABOUT LOVE

The problem with idealizing love is that it causes us to develop unrealistic expectations about what love actually is and what it can do for us. These unrealistic expectations then sabotage the very relationships we hold dear in the first place. Allow me to illustrate:

1. Love does not equal compatibility. Just because you fall in love with someone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good partner for you to be with over the long term. Love is an emotional process; compatibility is a logical process. And the two don’t bleed into one another very well.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who doesn’t treat us well, who makes us feel worse about ourselves, who doesn’t hold the same respect for us as we do for them, or who has such a dysfunctional life themselves that they threaten to bring us down with them.

It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who has different ambitions or life goals that are contradictory to our own, who holds different philosophical beliefs or worldviews that clash with our own sense of reality.

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It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who sucks for us and our happiness.

That may sound paradoxical, but it’s true.

When I think of all of the disastrous relationships I’ve seen or people have emailed me about, many (or most) of them were entered into on the basis of emotion — they felt that “spark” and so they just dove in head first. Forget that he was a born-again Christian alcoholic and she was an acid-dropping bisexual necrophiliac. It just felt right.

And then six months later, when she’s throwing his shit out onto the lawn and he’s praying to Jesus twelve times a day for her salvation, they look around and wonder, “Gee, where did it go wrong?”

The truth is, it went wrong before it even began.

When dating and looking for a partner, you must use not only your heart, but your mind. Yes, you want to find someone who makes your heart flutter and your farts smell like cherry popsicles. But you also need to evaluate a person’s values, how they treat themselves, how they treat those close to them, their ambitions and their worldviews in general. Because if you fall in love with someone who is incompatible with you…well, as the ski instructor from South Park once said, you’re going to have a bad time.

2. Love does not solve your relationship problems. My first girlfriend and I were madly in love with each other. We also lived in different cities, had no money to see each other, had families who hated each other, and went through weekly bouts of meaningless drama and fighting.

And every time we fought, we’d come back to each other the next day and make up and remind each other how crazy we were about one another and that none of those little things matter because we’re omg sooooooo in love and we’ll find a way to work it out and everything will be great, just you wait and see. Our love made us feel like we were overcoming our issues, when on a practical level, absolutely nothing had changed.

As you can imagine, none of our problems got resolved. The fights repeated themselves. The arguments got worse. Our inability to ever see each other hung around our necks like an albatross. We were both self-absorbed to the point where we couldn’t even communicate that effectively. Hours and hours talking on the phone with nothing actually said. Looking back, there was no hope that it was going to last. Yet we kept it up for three fucking years!

After all, love conquers all, right?

Unsurprisingly, that relationship burst into flames and crashed like the Hindenburg into an oil patch. The break up was ugly. And the big lesson I took away from it was this: while love may make you feel better about your relationship problems, it doesn’t actually solve any of your relationship problems.

This is how a toxic relationship works. The roller coaster of emotions are intoxicating, each high feeling even more important and more valid than the one before, but unless there’s a stable and practical foundation beneath your feet, that rising tide of emotion will eventually come and wash it all away.

3. Love is not always worth sacrificing yourself. One of the defining characteristics of loving someone is that you are able to think outside of yourself and your own needs to help care for another person and their needs as well.

But the question that doesn’t get asked often enough is exactly what are you sacrificing, and is it worth it?

In loving relationships, it’s normal for both people to occasionally sacrifice their own desires, their own needs, and their own time for one another. I would argue that this is normal and healthy and a big part of what makes a relationship so great.

But when it comes to sacrificing one’s self-respect, one’s dignity, one’s physical body, one’s ambitions and life purpose, just to be with someone, then that same love becomes problematic. A loving relationship is supposed to supplement our individual identity, not damage it or replace it. If we find ourselves in situations where we’re tolerating disrespectful or abusive behavior, then that’s essentially what we’re doing: we’re allowing our love to consume us and negate us, and if we’re not careful, it will leave us as a shell of the person we once were.

THE FRIENDSHIP TEST
One of the oldest pieces of relationship advice in the book is, “You and your partner should be best friends.” Most people look at that piece of advice in the positive: I should spend time with my partner like I do my best friend; I should communicate openly with my partner like I do with my best friend; I should have fun with my partner like I do with my best friend.

But people should also look at it in the negative: Would you tolerate your partner’s negative behaviors in your best friend?

Amazingly, when we ask ourselves this question honestly, in most unhealthy and codependent relationships, the answer is “no.”

I know a young woman who just got married. She was madly in love with her husband. And despite the fact that he had been “between jobs” for more than a year, showed no interest in planning the wedding, often ditched her to take surfing trips with his friends, and her friends and family raised not-so-subtle concerns about him, she happily married him anyway.

But once the emotional high of the wedding wore off, reality set in. A year into their marriage, he’s still “between jobs,” he trashes the house while she’s at work, gets angry if she doesn’t cook dinner for him, and any time she complains he tells her that she’s “spoiled” and “arrogant.” Oh, and he still ditches her to take surfing trips with his friends.

And she got into this situation because she ignored all three of the harsh truths above. She idealized love. Despite being slapped in the face by all of the red flags he raised while dating him, she believed that their love signaled relationship compatibility. It didn’t. When her friends and family raised concerns leading up to the wedding, she believed that their love would solve their problems eventually. It didn’t. And now that everything had fallen into a steaming shit heap, she approached her friends for advice on how she could sacrifice herself even more to make it work.

And the truth is, it won’t.

Why do we tolerate behavior in our romantic relationships that we would never ever, ever tolerate in our friendships?

Imagine if your best friend moved in with you, trashed your place, refused to get a job or pay rent, demanded you cook dinner for them, and got angry and yelled at you any time you complained. That friendship would be over faster than Paris Hilton’s acting career.

Or another situation: a man’s girlfriend who was so jealous that she demanded passwords to all of his accounts and insisted on accompanying him on his business trips to make sure he wasn’t tempted by other women. This woman was like the NSA. His life was practically under 24/7 surveillance and you could see it wearing on his self-esteem. His self-worth dropped to nothing. She didn’t trust him to do anything. So he quit trusting himself to do anything.

Yet he stays with her! Why? Because he’s in love!

Remember this: The only way you can fully enjoy the love in your life is to choose to make something else more important in your life than love.

You can fall in love with a wide variety of people throughout the course of your life. You can fall in love with people who are good for you and people who are bad for you. You can fall in love in healthy ways and unhealthy ways. You can fall in love when you’re young and when you’re old. Love is not unique. Love is not special. Love is not scarce.

But your self-respect is. So is your dignity. So is your ability to trust. There can potentially be many loves throughout your life, but once you lose your self-respect, your dignity or your ability to trust, they are very hard to get back.

Love is a wonderful experience. It’s one of the greatest experiences life has to offer. And it is something everyone should aspire to feel and enjoy.

But like any other experience, it can be healthy or unhealthy. Like any other experience, it cannot be allowed to define us, our identities or our life purpose. We cannot let it consume us. We cannot sacrifice our identities and self-worth to it. Because the moment we do that, we lose love and we lose ourselves.

Because you need more in life than love. Love is great. Love is necessary. Love is beautiful. But love is not enough.

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How Innovative Ideas Arise and How It Help?

What is Innovation?

The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.
To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need. Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products. In business, innovation often results when ideas are applied by the company in order to further satisfy the needs and expectations of the customers.

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In a social context, innovation helps create new methods for alliance creation, joint venturing, flexible work hours, and creation of buyers’ purchasing power. Innovations are divided into two broad categories:
Evolutionary innovations (continuous or dynamic evolutionary innovation) that are brought about by many incremental advances in technology or processes and
revolutionary innovations (also called discontinuous innovations) which are often disruptive and new.
Innovation is synonymous with risk-taking and organizations that create revolutionary products or technologies take on the greatest risk because they create new markets.

Imitators take less risk because they will start with an innovator’s product and take a more effective approach. Examples are IBM with its PC against Apple Computer, Compaq with its cheaper PC’s against IBM, and Dell with its still-cheaper clones against Compaq.

In 2010, Thomas Thwaites decided he wanted to build a toaster from scratch. He walked into a shop, purchased the cheapest toaster he could find, and promptly went home and broke it down piece by piece.

Thwaites had assumed the toaster would be a relatively simple machine. By the time he was finished deconstructing it, however, there were more than 400 components laid out on his floor. The toaster contained over 100 different materials with three of the primary ones being plastic, nickel, and steel.

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He decided to create the steel components first. After discovering that iron ore was required to make steel, Thwaites called up an iron mine in his region and asked if they would let him use some for the project.

Surprisingly, they agreed.

The Toaster Project

The victory was short-lived.

When it came time to create the plastic case for his toaster, Thwaites realized he would need crude oil to make the plastic. This time, he called up BP and asked if they would fly him out to an oil rig and lend him some oil for the project. They immediately refused. It seems oil companies aren’t nearly as generous as iron mines.

Thwaites had to settle for collecting plastic scraps and melting them into the shape of his toaster case. This is not as easy as it sounds. The homemade toaster ended up looking more like a melted cake than a kitchen appliance.

This pattern continued for the entire span of The Toaster Project. It was nearly impossible to move forward without the help of some previous process. To create the nickel components, for example, he had to resort to melting old coins. He would later say, “I realized that if you started absolutely from scratch you could easily spend your life making a toaster.” 

The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites (How Innovative Ideas Arise)
Thomas Thwaites set out to build a toaster from scratch. The Toaster Project, as it came to be known, ended up looking more like a melted cake. (Photo Credit: Daniel Alexander.)

Don’t Start From Scratch

Starting from scratch is usually a bad idea.

Too often, we assume innovative ideas and meaningful changes require a blank slate. When business projects fail, we say things like, “Let’s go back to the drawing board.” When we consider the habits we would like to change, we think, “I just need a fresh start.” However, creative progress is rarely the result of throwing out all previous ideas and innovations and completely re-imagining of the world.

Consider an example from nature:

Some experts believe the feathers of birds evolved from reptilian scales. Through the forces of evolution, scales gradually became small feathers, which were used for warmth and insulation at first. Eventually, these small fluffs developed into larger feathers capable of flight.

There wasn’t a magical moment when the animal kingdom said, “Let’s start from scratch and create an animal that can fly.” The development of flying birds was a gradual process of iterating and expanding upon ideas that already worked. 

The process of human flight followed a similar path. We typically credit Orville and Wilbur Wright as the inventors of modern flight. However, we seldom discuss the aviation pioneers who preceded them like Otto Lilienthal, Samuel Langley, and Octave Chanute. The Wright brothers learned from and built upon the work of these people during their quest to create the world’s first flying machine.

The most creative innovations are often new combinations of old ideas. Innovative thinkers don’t create, they connect. Furthermore, the most effective way to make progress is usually by making 1 percent improvements to what already worksrather than breaking down the whole system and starting over.

Iterate, Don’t Originate

The Toaster Project is an example of how we often fail to notice the complexity of our modern world. When you buy a toaster, you don’t think about everything that has to happen before it appears in the store. You aren’t aware of the iron being carved out of the mountain or the oil being drawn up from the earth. 

We are mostly blind to the remarkable interconnectedness of things. This is important to understand because in a complex world it is hard to see which forces are working for you as well as which forces are working against you. Similar to buying a toaster, we tend to focus on the final product and fail to recognize the many processes leading up to it.

When you are dealing with a complex problem, it is usually better to build upon what already works. Any idea that is currently working has passed a lot of tests. Old ideas are a secret weapon because they have already managed to survive in a complex world.

In this special report we focus on the top innovations that will fuel some of the key trends in 2018 and offer plenty of opportunities for businesses across retail, travel, publishing, property management and the healthcare sector. From tackling ‘fake news’ to reviving bricks-and-mortar as well as embracing the circular economy and the power of data, these innovations aim to inspire you and support you in your mission to drive product and business transformation.

Top 5 innovation ideas for 2018

1 Smart box wants users to take control of their health

The health industry has boomed in the past five years, with the desire to achieve peak fitness levels and track progress along the way proving popular with both fitness junkies and those simply wanting to look after themselves. Technology has allowed people to access their personal data from their own homes, with smart devices, apps, wearables and personalised services meaning it has never been easier to know how fast you run, what your blood pressure is and how many calories you are consuming.

UK-based Vie’s creation of a smart box that provides readings on heart rate, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels, and blood oxygen can help the user detect the early signs of chronic diseases. The simplicity of having such a device in your home provides a preliminary step when tracking health that can be used before consulting a professional. Another notable device is the low-cost product that uses temperature to detect skin cancer. We predict the continuation of steady growth in this field as the public’s desire to be healthy proceeds to grow worldwide.

2 Digital publishing platform connects artists with audiences

Cryptocurrencies came to the forefront of news in 2017 thanks to their value multiplying at unprecedented rates. While many are still sceptical of its reliability as a form of currency, it is undeniable that such forms of payments are to become more prominent in coming years, especially now investors have had an insight in how their money can grow. The Lightstreams digital publishing platform uses an Ethereum-based blockchain network to connect music artists with audiences. The network will provide transparency for artists and help avoid misallocation of royalty fees and the damage caused by fake reviews.

Polish startup Userfeeds is also utilising the power of cryptocurrencies by using it as a means to provide transparency in news, thereby thwarting the spread of so-called ‘fake news’. This unique approach to using cryptocurrency is just one way it can be manipulated for differing industries. In 2018 we will see increased transparency across all sectors through the use of blockchain technology and streamlined transactions with the spread of smart contracts.

3 Interactive and practical retail space pilots new emerging brands

Retail spaces are no longer just places to browse shelves and make purchases. Technology has revolutionised the shopping experience by replacing store assistants with robots, boosting sales opportunities with digital walls and more. A new store developed by Simon Property Group is acting as a micro-retail space for emerging brands, eliminating the high cost of renting a permanent bricks and mortar shop. The spaces provide a multitude of technology-based offerings like staffing solutions and temporary displays.

Such leasing models will help small and new companies entering their respective fields gain the publicity they need to evolve. The flexibility that comes with innovative store concepts makes it a mutually beneficial business model, with new companies keen to take advantage of such opportunities and the brains behind the models having plenty of customers. E-commerce fashion business Farfetch has taken its own approach, combining the luxury retail experience with technology. Its store creates an augmented retail environment that brings the advantages of online commerce into the physical space. 2018 will see retailers embrace the concept of ‘experiential store’ making use of new technology to gain competitive edge.

4 Virtual aquarium tunnel speeds up security checks

With security measures at transport hubs tighter than ever before, technology has an integral role to plays in providing a simple, smooth and fast solution that is reliable for both passengers and security. Biometric security systems are a popular method adopted by airports such as Dubai International, which introduced a facial recognition system within a virtual aquarium. Passengers simply walk through the tunnel-shaped aquarium and when focused on a fish, 80 built-in cameras scan the face.

In addition to this unique take on the technology, NEC Corporation has created an earphone prototype that assists secure computing thanks to authentication. The device recognizes the characteristics of a user’s ear in order to enable hands-free authentication, providing an even faster way of logging into your computer. Biometrics is gradually integrating into everything we do, and businesses adopting the technology into its own product prototypes will give a nod to the future ‘normal’.

5 AI property management saves time and money

Once featuring only in Hollywood films, artificial intelligence is now expanding the way companies approach data that can hugely impact their business action.
Manual collation or even use of basic systems can be laborious, hard to analyse and mistakes can be easily made. By using an AI system, companies can access the widest range of information possible with minimal effort.

One example is AskPorter, an AI property management platform that aims to reduce inefficiencies in workflows and change the role of property manager into that of a supervisor or concierge. By acting as the first point of contact for queries, simple questions and requests from tenants can be managed quickly and easily.

In a different industry, DemandJump has created an AI-enabled marketing platform named TrafficCloud that guides marketers on what action to take next with campaigns. Unlike traditional data collation tools that would look into page hits, for example, this new tool is able to link customer activity across devices and present a much more detailed analysis of traffic between sources. Such innovation could revolutionise the way businesses look at their data.

Domain Names And Web Hosting Are the Same Thing?

Ready to start a website? Great! Are you thinking that web hosting is the same thing as a domain name. Wrong. It is easy to get confused between web hosting and domain name and think that they refer to the same thing. Web hosting is the place where your website and all its files are stored, a server. Whereas, a domain name is the actual name of your website like facebook.com, amazon.com. In layman terms, domain name is actually the name of the house that you live in and web host is the actual house. Can you have a website without either? No. That is why they go hand in hand with each other. Let’s dig a bit deeper into domains.

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What are Domains? We have all heard about IP addresses. They are series of numbers which are used to refer to a website. However, who is going to type or remember the long series of numbers.

That is where domain names come in. A website owner registers a domain name which is then used to route to the particular IP address of the website. It is essentially a pointer, and means nothing on its own.

Together or Separately:  Should you buy the domain name and web hosting from different companies or one? Many web hosting websites also provide you with an option to register a domain with them but not all of them.

  • If you buy it from different companies, you will need to edit the DNS settings of your domain name to point it to your website. You need to keep the login details for your account safe.
  • Buying from one company is convenient and easier to manage and no need to change any settings. It does not mean that if you decide to move web hosting, you will need a new domain name. You own the domain name and will just need to transfer it.

How To Choose A Domain: There are numerous articles detailing how to go about selecting a web hosting site for your business, but fewer details when it comes to choosing a domain name. It is extremely important to pay attention to it because it will be your online identity. Here are some tips to make sure you buy the right domain name:

  • Do Your Research: Before jumping ahead and buying whatever came to your mind, do you homework a bit. Look at your competitors sites and see what names are available.
  • Make it Your Brand: Try not to use the name of your product in the domain name rather any other associative word. Do not use very common words that people forget or mix it up with your competitors. The name should be easy to remember and not include difficult spellings.
  • Make it brief: The shorter your domain name is, the more user friendly and easier to remember. But do not use a generic name. Try not to use slang or using numbers in the name.
  • Check Social media: Make sure that the domain name you have used is not already in use as a Facebook page name or twitter handle.

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Creativity Is a Talent and Hard Work

The Fertile Mind

Life requires daily acts of ingenuity and novel workarounds, so it is in everyone’s interest to nurture creative impulses, regardless of one’s day job. How to shake up the way we think? Creativity is associated with many factors including conducive environments, ideal collaborators, personality traits, serendipity, and even a quest for spiritual muses. Research shows that creative thinking involves making new connections between different regions of the brain, which is accomplished by cultivating divergent thinking skills and deliberately exposing ourselves to new experiences and to learning. While research psychologists are interested in tapping innovative thinking, clinical psychologists sometimes encourage patients to use artistic expression as a way to confront difficult feelings.

Innovate!

Many people feel that they have no or very limited creative ability—even people who work in creative fields! However, innovation is not some divine gift; it’s actually the skilled application of knowledge in new and exciting ways. The truth is that creativity can be acquired and honed at any age or any experience level. When a person learns new information, sleeping or enjoying a distraction allows  the unconscious mind to process the data in novel and surprising ways, thereby laying the groundwork for a creative insight or breakthrough.

 

In 1666, one of the most influential scientists in history was strolling through a garden when he was struck with a flash of creative brilliance that would change the world.

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While standing under the shade of an apple tree, Sir Isaac Newton saw an apple fall to the ground. “Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,” Newton wondered. “Why should it not go sideways, or upwards, but constantly to the earth’s center? Assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. There must be a drawing power in matter.” 

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And thus, the concept of gravity was born.

The story of the falling apple has become one of the lasting and iconic examples of the creative moment. It is a symbol of the inspired genius that fills your brain during those “eureka moments” when creative conditions are just right. 

What most people forget, however, is that Newton worked on his ideas about gravity for nearly twenty years until, in 1687, he published his groundbreaking book, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. The falling apple was merely the beginning of a train of thought that continued for decades.

Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life by William Stukeley
The famous page describing Newton’s apple incident in Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life by William Stukeley.

Newton isn’t the only one to wrestle with a great idea for years. Creative thinking is a process for all of us. In this article, I’ll share the science of creative thinking, discuss which conditions drive creativity and which ones hinder it, and offer practical tips for becoming more creative.

Creative Thinking: Destiny or Development?

Creative thinking requires our brains to make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas. Is this a skill that we are born with or one that we develop through practice? Let’s look at the research to uncover an answer.

In the 1960s, a creative performance researcher named George Land conducted a study of 1,600 five-year-olds and 98 percent of the children scored in the “highly creative” range. Dr. Land re-tested each subject during five year increments. When the same children were 10-years-old, only 30 percent scored in the highly creative range. This number dropped to 12 percent by age 15 and just 2 percent by age 25. As the children grew into adults they effectively had the creativity trained out of them. In the words of Dr. Land, “non-creative behavior is learned.” 

Similar trends have been discovered by other researchers. For example, one study of 272,599 students found that although IQ scores have risen since 1990, creative thinking scores have decreased. 

All of this to say, claiming that “I’m just not the creative type” is a pretty weak excuse for avoiding creative thinking. Certainly, some people are primed to be more creative than others. However, nearly every person is born with some level of creative skill and the majority of our creative thinking abilities are trainable.

Intelligence and Creative Thinking

What does it take to unleash your creative potential?

As I mentioned in my article on Threshold Theory, being in the top 1 percent of intelligence has no correlation with being fantastically creative. Instead, you simply have to be smart (not a genius) and then work hard, practice deliberately and put in your reps.

As long as you meet a threshold of intelligence, then brilliant creative work is well within your reach. In the words of researchers from a 2013 study, “we obtained evidence that once the intelligence threshold is met, personality factors become more predictive for creativity.” 

Growth Mindset

What exactly are these “personality factors” that researchers are referring to when it comes to boosting your creative thinking?

One of the most critical components is how you view your talents internally. More specifically, your creative skills are largely determined by whether you approach the creative process with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

The basic idea is that when we use a fixed mindset we approach tasks as if our talents and abilities are fixed and unchanging. In a growth mindset, however, we believe that our abilities can be improved with effort and practice. Interestingly, we can easily nudge ourselves in one direction or another based on how we talk about and praise our efforts.

Here’s a brief summary in Dweck’s words:

“The whole self-esteem movement taught us erroneously that praising intelligence, talent, abilities would foster self-confidence, self-esteem, and everything great would follow. But we’ve found it backfires. People who are praised for talent now worry about doing the next thing, about taking on the hard task, and not looking talented, tarnishing that reputation for brilliance. So instead, they’ll stick to their comfort zone and get really defensive when they hit setbacks.

So what should we praise? The effort, the strategies, the doggedness and persistence, the grit people show, the resilience that they show in the face of obstacles, that bouncing back when things go wrong and knowing what to try next. So I think a huge part of promoting a growth mindset in the workplace is to convey those values of process, to give feedback, to reward people engaging in the process, and not just a successful outcome.”

—Carol Dweck 

Embarrassment and Creativity

How can we apply the growth mindset to creativity in practical terms? In my experience, it comes down to one thing: the willingness to look bad when pursuing an activity.

As Dweck says, the growth mindset is focused more on the process than the outcome. This is easy to accept in theory, but very hard to stick to in practice. Most people don’t want to deal with the accompanying embarrassment or shame that is often required to learn a new skill.

The list of mistakes that you can never recover from is very short. I think most of us realize this on some level. We know that our lives will not be destroyed if that book we write doesn’t sell or if we get turned down by a potential date or if we forget someone’s name when we introduce them. It’s not necessarily what comes after the event that worries us. It’s the possibility of looking stupid, feeling humiliated, or dealing with embarrassment along the way that prevents us from getting started at all.

In order to fully embrace the growth mindset and enhance your creativity, you need to be willing to take action in the face of these feelings which so often deter us.

How to Be More Creative

Assuming that you are willing to do the hard work of facing your inner fears and working through failure, here are a few practical strategies for becoming more creative.

Constrain yourself. Carefully designed constraints are one of your best tools for sparking creative thinking. Dr. Seuss wrote his most famous book when he limited himself to 50 words. Soccer players develop more elaborate skill sets when they play on a smaller field. Designers can use a 3-inch by 5-inch canvas to create better large scale designs. The more we limit ourselves, the more resourceful we become.

Broaden your knowledge. One of my most successful creative strategies is to force myself to write about seemingly disparate topics and ideas. For example, I have to be creative when I use 1980’s basketball strategies or ancient word processing software or zen Buddhism to describe our daily behaviors. In the words of psychologist Robert Epstein, “You’ll do better in psychology and life if you broaden your knowledge.”

Sleep longer. In my article on how to get better sleep, I shared a study from the University of Pennsylvania, which revealed the incredible impact of sleep on mental performance. The main finding was this: Sleep debt is cumulative and if you get 6 hours of sleep per night for two weeks straight, your mental and physical performance declines to the same level as if you had stayed awake for 48 hours straight. Like all cognitive functions, creative thinking is significantly impaired by sleep deprivation.

Embrace positive thinking. It sounds a bit fluffy for my taste, but positive thinking can lead to significant improvements in creative thinking. Why? Positive psychology research has revealed that we tend to think more broadly when we are happy. This concept, which is known as the Broaden and Build Theory, makes it easier for us to make creative connections between ideas. Conversely, sadness and depression seems to lead to more restrictive and limited thinking.

Final Thoughts on Creative Thinking

Creativity is a talent and hard work. It’s not just a eureka moment. You have to work through mental barriers and internal blocks. You have to commit to practicing your craft deliberately. And you have to stick with the process for years, perhaps even decades like Newton did, in order to see your creative genius blossom.

 

 

3 Most Common Mental Errors That Sway Us From Making Best Decisions

I like to think of myself as a rational person, but I’m not one. The good news is it’s not just me — or you. We are all irrational, and we all make mental errors.

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For a long time, researchers and economists believed that humans made logical, well-considered decisions. In recent decades, however, researchers have uncovered a wide range of mental errors that derail our thinking. Sometimes we make logical decisions, but there are many times when we make emotional, irrational, and confusing choices.

Psychologists and behavioral researchers love to geek out about these different mental mistakes. There are dozens of them and they all have fancy names like “mere exposure effect” or “narrative fallacy.” But I don’t want to get bogged down in the scientific jargon today. Instead, let’s talk about the mental errors that show up most frequently in our lives and break them down in easy-to-understand language.

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Here are three most common mental errors that sway us from making best decisions.

1. Survivorship Bias.

Nearly every popular online media outlet is filled with survivorship bias these days. Anywhere you see articles with titles like “8 Things Successful People Do Everyday” or “The Best Advice Richard Branson Ever Received” or “How LeBron James Trains in the Off-Season” you are seeing survivorship bias in action.

Survivorship bias refers to our tendency to focus on the winners in a particular area and try to learn from them while completely forgetting about the losers who are employing the same strategy.

There might be thousands of athletes who train in a very similar way to LeBron James, but never made it to the NBA. The problem is nobody hears about the thousands of athletes who never made it to the top. We only hear from the people who survive. We mistakenly overvalue the strategies, tactics, and advice of one survivor while ignoring the fact that the same strategies, tactics, and advice didn’t work for most people.

Another example: “Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of school and became billionaires! You don’t need school to succeed. Entrepreneurs just need to stop wasting time in class and get started.”

It’s entirely possible that Richard Branson succeeded in spite of his path and not because of it. For every Branson, Gates, and Zuckerberg, there are thousands of other entrepreneurs with failed projects, debt-heavy bank accounts, and half-finished degrees. Survivorship bias isn’t merely saying that a strategy may not work well for you, it’s also saying that we don’t really know if the strategy works well at all.

When the winners are remembered and the losers are forgotten it becomes very difficult to say if a particular strategy leads to success.

survivorship bias (Common Mental Errors)

2. Loss Aversion.

Loss aversion refers to our tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains. Research has shown that if someone gives you $10 you will experience a small boost in satisfaction, but if you lose $10 you will experience a dramatically higher loss in satisfaction. Yes, the responses are opposite, but they are not equal in magnitude. 

Our tendency to avoid losses causes us to make silly decisions and change our behavior simply to keep the things that we already own. We are wired to feel protective of the things we own and that can lead us to overvalue these items in comparison with the options.

For example, if you buy a new pair of shoes it may provide a small boost in pleasure. However, even if you never wear the shoes, giving them away a few months later might be incredibly painful. You never use them, but for some reason you just can’t stand parting with them. Loss aversion.

Similarly, you might feel a small bit of joy when you breeze through green lights on your way to work, but you will get downright angry when the car in front of you sits at a green light and you miss the opportunity to make it through the intersection. Losing out on the chance to make the light is far more painful than the pleasure of hitting the green light from the beginning.

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3. Confirmation Bias.

The Grandaddy of Them All. Confirmation bias refers to our tendency to search for and favor information that confirms our beliefs while simultaneously ignoring or devaluing information that contradicts our beliefs.

For example, Person A believes climate change is a serious issue and they only search out and read stories about environmental conservation, climate change, and renewable energy. As a result, Person A continues to confirm and support their current beliefs.

Meanwhile, Person B does not believe climate change is a serious issue, and they only search out and read stories that discuss how climate change is a myth, why scientists are incorrect, and how we are all being fooled. As a result, Person B continues to confirm and support their current beliefs.

Changing your mind is harder than it looks. The more you believe you know something, the more you filter and ignore all information to the contrary.

You can extend this thought pattern to nearly any topic. If you just bought a Honda Accord and you believe it is the best car on the market, then you’ll naturally read any article you come across that praises the car. Meanwhile, if another magazine lists a different car as the best pick of the year, you simply dismiss it and assume that the editors of that particular magazine got it wrong or were looking for something different than what you were looking for in a car. 

It is not natural for us to formulate a hypothesis and then test various ways to prove it false. Instead, it is far more likely that we will form one hypothesis, assume it is true, and only seek out and believe information that supports it. Most people don’t want new information, they want validating information.

confirmation bias (Common Mental Errors)

Where to Go From Here

Once you understand some of these common mental errors, your first response might be something along the lines of, “I want to stop this from happening! How can I prevent my brain from doing these things?”

It’s a fair question, but it’s not quite that simple. Rather than thinking of these miscalculations as a signal of a broken brain, it’s better to consider them as evidence that the shortcuts your brain uses aren’t useful in all cases. There are many areas of everyday life where the mental processes mentioned above are incredibly useful. You don’t want to eliminate these thinking mechanisms.

The problem is that our brains are so good at performing these functions — they slip into these patterns so quickly and effortlessly — that we end up using them in situations where they don’t serve us.

In cases like these, self-awareness is often one of our best options. Hopefully this article will help you spot these errors next time you make them.