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Good Comment: Life Manifest

I'd like to bring attention to this ingenious comment by Stefanie Zobus. I'm adding bold on my favorite part -

It’s terribly easy to waste a day. It’s the evening, and I haven’t really done anything useful. I thought of planning the day when I got up, but in the end didn’t. I think books such as that one are really good in that they remind people their treacherous tendencies that take over when one doesn’t pay attention carefully enough. Old habits and all that. It would probably be a good idea to have something that forcefully reminds one of the whole business every day when one gets up, at least when one is still establishing new habits.

Something I thought about in that respect was that it would be useful to write some sort of ‘life manifest.’ Discussing how one wants ones’ life to be, what one wants to do in life, and very importantly: why – because when one doubts and falters, one could read that and be reminded of why one tries, and why one should keep going. You wrote something similar in that you had some post some time ago as to how many books you want to publish until then-and-then, and how much money you want to own at this or that point… which is a really good thing since it encourages and sets goals. There are so many methods and ways helping one to keep going… one just has to find and employ them. I’m afraid, the employing part is difficult. Reading a book like that brings one ‘back to earth’ I suppose, if one really cares. And if one doesn’t care, well, then things are pretty hopeless anyway.

Very smart stuff. I have some things that I live for, but I never thought to look at those when I was feeling demotivated. Great stuff. Stefanie just launched a site at http://stefaniezobus.wordpress.com/ - here's looking forward to good insights from her.

Letter: On Neuroplasticity and Habits

I had a wonderful correspondance with the always-insightful Stefanie Zobus - she's graciously allowed me to share it with you. Here's Stefanie -

Most people don’t fix their problems, but some do. You are reading Hacker News a lot, so I bet you get to read a lot of people quitting bad jobs and starting start-ups. Some people change, but they have to want to change, and they have to find the right way. There’s something interesting I found about that in a book I’m reading right now – apparently the mind plays a huge, huge role.

The book is called “Train your mind, change your brain” by Sharon Begley. It’s about neuroplasticity (and Buddhism). It talks a lot about how, no matter how old the brain is, it can still create new brain cells, thus it’s still changeable. It may be harder, but it certainly is possible. Then, it talks about, for example, how behavior, experiences and even thoughts can change the brain’s structure – the physical structure – and how all that is connected to how people are, behave, feel.

There are some interesting things like in cases of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder) – the feeling that something’s wrong and all that is apparently caused by some part of the brain firing too much. So, those OCD people were taught “mindfulness”, something like meditation, concentration on what they feel from a somewhat distanced viewpoint in the sense of just perceiving, letting it flow, not judging. At the same time they were also taught to view the obsessive-compulsive element they felt simply as some neurons firing bad. The result? They stopped feeling as if they were being controlled by the disorder, made good progress and all. Then the scientists put them into the brain scanner – and lo behold, the hyperactive firing of the brain area causing the disorder was muted in comparison to before. Interesting, interesting. (The scientists who did the experiments were neuroscientist Jeffrey Schwartz of the University of California-Los Angeles and his college Lewis Baxter.)

So what I want to say with that is… things like OCD are serious business, and if people can change that, adults can change that, I think they can also change other behavior. It’s a lot about seeing things right, and I suppose most never get there. (With seeing I don’t just mean theoretically getting it – i suppose I mean something like your intek). They need to find the right method, the right way to go about it. Those OCD people had tried many therapies before – those didn’t help, there was no progress. But then.... then, they found it, and consequently there was change.

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