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Sun, 18 Nov 2018
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Simple math and the right tools: How to read 200 books a year and change your life

Reading books
Somebody once asked Warren Buffett about his secret to success. Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said,
"Read 500 pages like this every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will..."
When I first found this quote of Buffett's two years ago, something was wrong.

It was December 2014. I'd found my dream job. Some days, I would be there, sitting at my dream job, and I would think. My god what if I'm still here in 40 years? I don't want to die like this...

Something wasn't right. I'd followed the prescription. Good grades. Leadership. Recommendations. College. Dream Job. I was a winner. I'd finished the race. Here I was in the land of dreams. But something was terribly, terribly wrong.

Every day, from my dream job desk, I looked out into their eyes. Empty, empty eyes.

There were no answers.

In January of 2015, I found Buffett's quote. I decided to read. I was going to read and read and read and never stop until I got some damn answers.

I didn't quite make 500 pages a day, but, in these last 2 years, I've read over 400 books cover to cover. That decision to start reading was one of the most important decisions in my life.

Books gave me the courage to travel. Books gave me the conviction to quit my job. Books gave me role models and heroes and meaning in a world where I had none.

I want to say reading 200 books a year is an amazing thing. But the truth is, it's not. Anybody can do it.

All it takes is some simple math and the right tools

Comment: Related:


Neuroplasticity: The good & the bad - what happens to someone's brain from complaining every day?

"Thought changes structure ... I saw people rewire their brains with their thoughts, to cure previously incurable obsessions and trauma." ~ Norman Doidge, Canadian-born psychiatrist and author of The Brain That Changes Itself

The human brain is remarkably malleable. It can be shaped very much like a ball of Play-Doh, albeit with a bit more time and effort.

Within the last 20 years, thanks to rapid development in the spheres of brain imaging and neuroscience, we can now say for certain that the brain is capable of re-engineering - and that we are the engineers.

Light Saber

How to take a stand against manipulation

I've been busy working through some of my own stuff lately, while marveling at how closely my personal journey has been mirrored in the larger world. I wrote out the following as a personal exercise while meditating on all the similarities between abusive personal relationships with manipulators and our relationship as a species with the sociopathic plutocrats who rule us. I got a lot out of writing it, and it came out relatively readable, so I figured I'd publish it as-is in case anyone else finds it useful too. Here ya go!

media manipulation disinformation propaganda
© Garzon
Humans are hackable. Ask any conman. Our desire to think we have control over our lives often hides this from ourselves, but most of us are highly suggestible and hypnotizable. If you think you're not, you're in more danger of being hacked than someone who has humbled themselves enough to see how this works in them.

There's no need to be ashamed of being conned. Realizing that you've been, or are being, conned will naturally bring up feelings of embarrassment, but it's never your fault that someone's taken you for a ride. Get clear: conning someone is the crime; being conned is being a victim of that crime. That's how the law sees it in fraud cases. Manipulators would love you to think that it's your fault for allowing yourself to be manipulated, but that's just another manipulation isn't it?

Manipulators use one of our most astounding, useful, and beautiful human characteristics when they con us - empathy. Our innately trusting nature is the reason why we've been able to collaborate on large scales to create and innovate in extraordinary ways unseen anywhere else in the animal kingdom. Because we learn by modeling, and we are shaped by the group we inhabit and our urge to create harmony will make life viscerally uncomfortable until we are back in alignment with our tribe. We are the peacemakers; we seek alignment, which is how we are paced by manipulators into aligning with their sick agendas. How gross is it then that our ability to empathize and relate to each other is one manipulators use to control us?

Comment: See also:


Paul Joseph Watson: The age of emotional incontinence

Kim Kardashian
Though Watson brings a great deal of social commentary (and even humor) to his discussion, the conclusions and approach he advises for individual stability, balance and growth show great insight: Stoicism.

Comment: See also:

Post-It Note

Writing your way to wellbeing

Writing by hand
© joebuhlig.com
Ask almost anyone you know how they are, and the response is likely to be: "busy". Our inboxes are bursting with emails. Appointments and social events keep stacking up. Family woes, work worries and money matters make our minds work overtime. Not to mention commuting, pollution and the "million and one things" to remember.Add to this the uncertain political times we live in and, well, it's not surprising that many people feel overwhelmed.

Life is fast-paced. And it can be difficult to slow down - especially if being busy is effectively masking anxiety, grief and hard-to-handle emotions.

The end result of all of this seems to be widespread depression. According to The World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. They estimate that more than 300 million people are living with depression.

There is no fast-fix for depression, nor for other forms of mental illness. However, creativity is a remedy - a tonic that can help bring about real change. And many hospitals have arts programs to help patients heal.

Comment: See also:


Almost two-thirds of Americans have this sign of an unhealthy brain

Too much belly fat is a warning sign of an unhealthy brain, new research from over 5,000 people concludes.

The more belly fat people had, the worse their brain function was, as measured by tests of memory, language and their general mental faculties.

Belly fat is assessed by measuring the waist and the hips and then dividing one by the other to get a ratio.

Belly fat may be particularly bad for the brain due to increased secretion of inflammatory markers.

Inflammatory proteins - too many of which are bad for the body - frequently increase before people get dementia.

Comment: See also: The Age of Metabolic Syndrome - Inflammatory Fat Is Worse Than Obesity


Effects of DMT can mimic near-death experience

© Global Look Press
Shaman paints pot used for the traditional ceremony involving ayahuasca.
Taking the powerful psychedelic drug, DMT, can have the same effects as a near-death experience, British scientists at the Imperial College London have suggested.

The researchers displayed results derived from a questionnaire that showed a "striking similarity" between people describing a near-death experiences and those who had taken DMT.

From this, the researchers concluded that near-death or "complex subjective" experiences had been caused by physical changes in the brain.

The discovery has led to hopes that studying DMT can lead to a better understanding of what happens to the brain as it dies.

DMT is a psychoactive compound in ayahuasca, a drink made from vines and used in certain tribal ceremonies in South and Central America. The drug is also popular amongst tourists who are permitted to take part in said ceremonies. Those who take it often note the feeling that they transcend their body and enter another realm.

Blue Planet

Look up from your screen! Children learn best when their bodies are engaged in the living world

A rooster crows and awakens my family at the farm where we are staying for a long weekend. The air is crisp, and stars twinkle in the sky as the Sun rises over the hill. We walk to the barn, where horses, cows, chickens, pigs, dogs and cats vie for our attention. We wash and replenish water bowls, and carry hay to the cows and horses. The kids collect eggs for breakfast.

The wind carries the smells of winter turning to spring. The mud wraps around our boots as we step in puddles. When we enter a stall, the pigs bump into us; when we look at the sheep, they cower together in a corner. We are learning about the urban watershed, where eggs and beef come from, and how barns were built in the 19th century with wood cauls rather than metal nails. We experience the smells of the barn, the texture of the ladder, the feel of the shovels, the vibration when the pigs grunt, the taste of fresh eggs, and the camaraderie with the farmers.


Man's best friend: Pet owners happier, wealthier, more fit than non-owners - survey

man's best friend
If you think pets are the pits, you may not be living to your potential. A new survey finds that people who own pets are happier, earn more money, and exercise more frequently than those who don't.

In a poll of 1,000 British dog and cat owners over 55 and 1,000 people in the same age group who don't have any pets, researchers calculated that pet owners were twice as likely to consider themselves a success. In fact, 9 in 10 owners agreed that their furry family members were good for their health and well-being. The belief makes sense: the survey showed that pet owners log nearly twice as much exercise, getting a good sweat about five times per week, versus just three time a week for the non-owners.

"The many benefits of pet ownership also include the cardio-vascular exercise of dog-walking, and even the light housework associated with feeding and clearing up after our beloved animals," says psychologist and author Corinne Sweet in a release.


The healing power of an attitude of gratitude

© Michigan State University
Gratitude may be more beneficial than we commonly suppose. One recent study asked subjects to write a note of thanks to someone and then estimate how surprised and happy the recipient would feel - an impact that they consistently underestimated. Another study assessed the health benefits of writing thank you notes. The researchers found that writing as few as three weekly thank you notes over the course of three weeks improved life satisfaction, increased happy feelings and reduced symptoms of depression.

While this research into gratitude is relatively new, the principles involved are anything but. Students of mine in a political philosophy course at Indiana University are reading Daniel Defoe's 300-year-old Robinson Crusoe, often regarded as the first novel published in English. Marooned alone on an unknown island with no apparent prospect of rescue or escape, Crusoe has much to lament. But instead of giving in to despair, he makes a list of things for which he is grateful, including the fact that he is the shipwreck's sole survivor and has been able to salvage many useful items from the wreckage.

Comment: The neuroscience of gratitude: Small acts of generosity