Category Archives: Life Lessons

Focus to Improve Skills, Unfocus to Improve Relationships

When it comes to skills like tennis, math, piano, you can improve at them the more you work at it, the more hours you spend, the more focus you bring to the path you take to the goals you’re trying to reach.  If I concentrate harder, I get results faster, because I’m controlling myself more, and success is gained when I can perform and execute the technique perfectly. The more time I spend, the more practice I get, and the more likely I am to execute the technique perfectly.  This ability to learn and learn quickly is very important in life, and is typically how people ‘succeed’ in the objective and competitive sense of the word.

Then there are things like relationships where your results improve when you’re not working at it, that don’t improve solely based on the hours you spend on it, and where focus can actually reduce your success significantly.  A relationship is successful if they remember you when you’re gone, not that they pay attention to you while you’re there.  Spending time alone doesn’t improve the relationship, spending quality time does, and there’s only so much quality time available per day and interaction before it becomes suffocating to spend more time together: overstaying results not in diminishing returns but actually in negative returns.  Spending too much time weakens the relationship, not strengthens.  And focusing too hard on someone is creepy, and so leads to failure.

Applying the skills used to master skills to relationships will lead to failure.  Separate the two, and develop a well rounded toolkit. Be able to learn quickly, and also be able to improve relationships.

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Life Lessons June 2014

Hey Readers! Apologies that I am running a year behind! Another project has been taking up all my time, but I intend to catch up on these by the end of the year :)
Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes which harm others.  It doesn’t make you a bad person because it wasn’t done with criminal intent: an innocent mistake doesn’t make you a bad person.
Don’t ask people “why don’t you like me.”  The other person probably doesn’t know because like and dislike are complex decisions heavily influenced by the subconscious, and it isn’t the other person’s responsibility to find out and tell you. Instead, think about traits that likable people have that you admire and work on improving those traits in yourself.
If you want to live, go to sleep. Too often we think the way to having a life is to stay up with friends. No, that’s the quickest way to become sleep deprived, lose vigor and energy during your day, affecting your attention and ability to live in the moment and experience life fully (See Understand Sleep).
Working slower doesn’t improve quality, working thoroughly does. It’s better to be slower as a result of being thorough than to just be slow for the sake of being slow in the hopes that it will improve quality.  I often make that mistake: I think I should set aside more time for a task in the hopes that doing so will result in higher quality work, but then I end up wasting time and getting distracted because there is nothing else to do.  If it’s going to take 10 minutes to do, setting aside 20 minutes won’t make it 2x better.
Friendly reminder that it’s always a good time to practice and improve listening skills.
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Life Lessons May 2014 Part 1

Priority and Short Sightedness.  I have the idea in my mind that I must do what is optimal for everyone else’s happiness at all times, especially for friends and family. However, this makes friends feel like I’m overthinking and/or overworrying sometimes because I’m constantly thinking about them and evaluating them to know what to say. And if I say or do anything that they didn’t respond well to, suddenly I’m worried and I try to change my behavior and remember it for the future.  This is too much: There is an amount of respect you should have for someone and it is good to wish happiness upon them, but you shouldn’t completely stifle who you are. I have been starting to feel like I can’t be who I am around my friends because I am too conscious of what they are thinking and feeling and what they like and such.  Just be who you are.  When you OFFEND, THEN scale back according to who you are.  Prior to offending them, it’s OK to be yourself–people are accepting, and if not then they’ll talk to you about how you bothered them if they are mature and it’s worth their time to (which is the case if they’re your friend, and usually not the case if they’re strangers. So to improve yourself, make friends so that they can give you feedback).
However, the real problem is that I treat all events of happiness and unhappiness with equal priority: if I accidentally spill water on a friend I treat that as equal to accidentally discouraging and crushing their dreams with poorly chosen words.  They are not the same, and recognizing when it is important to scale back and when it is unnecessary is important: not spilling water is preferable but not a big deal, not crushing your friend’s self esteem is very important. Secondly, I am not looking at the bigger picture: a spilled water once in a while is a normal occurrence and won’t be remembered long term.  Consistently spilling water every day and then it’s a problem.  
Often, the solution is NOT to answer the question “Why am I unhappy” so much as it is “what can I do to be happy.”  Don’t spend too much time thinking about why you’re unhappy–if you can figure it out, great, fix it, but if you can’t don’t stress over it or get stuck pondering the question.  Just keep looking for and doing things that make you happy and then you will become happy.  Also, you can’t think clearly if you are in a bad emotional state, so seek first to improve your mood before thinking about why you are unhappy, because while you are unhappy you may be blind to what is actually making you unhappy, and it is only after you escape the situation and look back in hindsight that you can recognize what it was that made you unhappy.
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