Peaceless

I had this dream last night. One where I was talking to Hugh Jackman. How or why – I have no clue. Correct me if I’m wrong but that’s the way dreams usually tend to be. Either way, it looked like we were somehow great friends and were having this long conversation about some shit. Here’s a part of that conversation that I found the most interesting:

Me: Everyone says that it’s never too late to do something great with your life – create an impact. Is that really true? It’s never too late to find meaning in your life. Never too late to find peace.

Hugh: I actually think the opposite. I’d say take as long as possible to do something great with your life. Especially if you think that’ll make your life peaceful. It’s never a singular act. If you’re gonna create some sort of impact, it’s something that’ll keep you busy for the rest of your life. Peacefulness is actually quite peaceless.

Me: I hear peacelessness is also quite peaceless.

Hugh: Haha. I guess that’s true too. Between a rock and a hard place. The only thing that pops to mind as an answer to this conundrum is – “Ignorance is bliss”.

Me: Interesting. Would you whack my head with a baseball bat? I’ve always wanted to be whacked in the head by Hugh Jackman.

Hugh: Haha sure.

And he whacked and I woke up. And the next thing I did was to open my blog and type this out. And then after 5 months of no posts, awkwardly post something this random. Hope you liked what you read or derived deep meaning from it or wasted 2 minutes of your life.

Toodles.

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You can fucking do it – pt.2 – Habits.

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If you haven’t read part-1 of this two-part post, I recommend you read through that first. In it, I talked about –
1. How human intuition is flawed and why.
2. Why you should rely on logic and data rather than intuition when you make a plan.
3. When it comes to executing the plan, where most people fail.
4. How hard work isn’t actually hard. It’s only consistent work.
5. How habits are the key to consistent work.
I also mentioned I’ll cover how the mind works and why habits are the key to hard work in a later post. This is that post. And I’ll also answer these questions in this post –
1. How to get good at things; 
2. How to develop good habits;
3. How to unlearn; and
4. How to tackle addictions

Alright. Intro out of the way. Let’s get into the good stuff. Our mind is essentially two.(Possibly more. Scientists aren’t really sure.) The conscious and the subconscious. I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with this model of the mind used by popular Psychology. If not, I suggest you google it because I’m not going to waste precious writing space (not to mention your time) describing it. Imagine the subconscious to be a reservoir of brain capacity(memory, skill, potential) hidden behind your conscious mind. Anything you’d like to put in there(learn) has to go through your conscious. And once in there, it can be retrieved for later use(reproduced) any time on cue. But it has this huge inertia of both learning and forgetting. Things don’t enter your subconscious mind easily and they don’t leave easily. And they can only be put in there with one thing – repetition. Now let’s tackle each question one by one.

1. How to get good at anything.

We’ve all memorized things. Whether it’s while studying for exams in school or learning the lyrics of that song or the dance moves for a dance you want to perform – you get the idea. And you know exactly what to do. Practice, practice, practice. Practice makes perfect. And it works. You practice it for long enough – and you memorize it. And what is practice, essentially? Repetition. Now, you know all this and you don’t need me to tell you this stuff. But it goes a level deeper than that – bear with me. When you drive, for example, do you consciously think about it? You don’t, right? But you weren’t always this way. There was a time when you had to consciously think about every shift of the transmission or every turn of the steering wheel. You develop a sort of unconscious competence with this skill, driving, through nothing but practice. All skills can be learnt this way – playing a musical instrument, riding a bicycle, typing really fast, getting really good at a game/sport. How easily or quickly someone learns something is mostly determined by genetics (what we call talent) and their age(the younger, the better – after the age of 2). Even something as simple as walking – a skill we take for granted all the time – is something we’ve all had trouble with when we were around a year old. All you people trying to learn a language, now you know how to actually do it. Don’t learn it from books or an app on your phone. Speak, and practice. Live among people who are constantly speaking the language. You’ll learn it in no time. Practice is probably the only hard part here, where you have to do any work.
There is a small caveat I must present here. Once you learn something incorrectly, unlearning is extremely difficult. Impossible might, in fact, actually be the right word. This is exactly what you see with people that speak a language poorly or with bad enunciation. It’s dangerous, in fact, in scenarios like sport/weightlifting where if you practice the movement incorrectly for a long time, you could risk injuring yourself in the long run. And in unfortunate scenarios where a person goes through years of abuse in their childhood – it might affect them for the rest of their lives. All hope is not lost though – I talk about unlearning further down.

2. How to develop good habits.

If you’ve borne with me this far, through stuff you already know above – here’s the part of the post you probably wanted to read. Think about this – do you ever forget to brush your teeth in the morning? It’s not an everyday thing to see a person halfway through their day going, “Ah for fuck’s sake! Forgot to brush my teeth in the morning again!”. Why do you never forget it? You don’t take any effort to remember to do it every morning, do you? You don’t need someone reminding you to brush, do you? No. Yet we do it so consistently. But at the same time – when you need to go on medication or whatever – it’s such a pain to remember to take it on time everyday. You need an external reminder. Why? Yup. Habit. Brushing your teeth has been a part of your routine since before you can remember. Those new meds have not.
                 A good habit is nothing but the skill of consistency at something productive. And like all skills it can be learnt with practice. What does this mean? Let’s take ‘working out’ as an example. If you want to get lean, develop the habit of going to the gym consistently. How do you do it? Make it a part of your routine. Practice consistency. Don’t miss a day of your first month (except your rest-days of course :P). This is the only part where you have to do any conscious work. Once you’re past this point, this has become a habit and you will find yourself staying consistent without any effort. I’ve done exactly this and seen it work pretty well. Of course, how long you’ll have to practice developing the habit might vary with people and with the activity. With working out – it took me a month to develop effortless consistency. You can do the same with any new habit you want to develop – reading, meditating, or my latest habit mission – Flossing. (You might go through cycles of hating the process initially. Like right now, I want to strangle the person who invented flossing. But this stage will pass.)
Now here’s where the ‘execution’ part of my part-1 should continue. Once you have a plan ready for whatever it is you want to do, identify what consistent work you need to do to execute that plan. Every plan for execution can be broken down into tasks that need to be done. If you consistently do them, you’re on your way to success!!(Assuming your plan doesn’t fail, of course! God forbid!)

3. How to unlearn.

When I haven’t played guitar in a while, I’m a bit rusty. A day or two of practice and I’m back to where I was. I haven’t swum in years. But I’ve learned how to. So put me in (still) water and I’m fairly confident I won’t drown. Even songs I’ve learned the lyrics of are still in the back of my head. I’ll need very little practice to refresh my memory. But what if you learned something wrong and it’s now embedded in your subconscious? Can you unlearn all of it?
 Well the short answer is you can’t. The long answer is – you can try and replace it with a re-learnt version. Practice, once again from scratch, doing it correctly for long enough and you can learn this as a new skill of sorts, I guess. But this is extremely hard to do. This works with language/accents/movement etc. But what you already know, from your initial wrong learning, will stay. At best all you can do is make it ‘rusty’ like you’d feel when you haven’t played your instrument in a while. There’s a brilliant demonstration of this learning-unlearning in action in this video.

4. How to tackle addiction.

This section is more broadly on how to tackle bad habits. An addiction is simply a bad habit that costs you something – usually your health, your wealth or your relationships with other people. A bad habit like procrastination is essentially the same thing. It just doesn’t cost you something grave. So how do you tackle them? Well if you’ve kept pace with me so far, I’ve explained how learning a new habit is like learning a new skill. And just like unlearning a new skill is impossible, unlearning a bad habit is impossible. All you can do is replace it with something else – hopefully a productive habit. So every time you get that craving to smoke, chew gum instead. Every time you get that urge to procrastinate on reddit or youtube, do something productive instead. And reward yourself for being productive with something you like (Not the thing you’re trying to quit – duh! Maybe a sweet treat.). Once again, like re-learning a skill – replacing a habit is extremely difficult. Develop this replacement habit the way I suggest in section 2, and it should definitely help.
There is one other thing that I’ve seen break people out of bad habits and addictions. A massive change in their lives or an event that emotionally affects them strongly has been known to break people out of bad habits. Heck! It’s even happened to me. But this is clearly unreliable and it shouldn’t be how people try to break out of addictions. They might end up costing themselves something else. I am therefore not going into detail.

And that concludes what I wanted to say in this post. Habits are no different from skills and things you need to memorize. Practice can conquer them all. There are many books out there that go in depth into habits. This one is pretty popular. And very thorough. The author goes into much more detail than what I’ve written above. So definitely give that a read if you’re interested. And please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts on all of these. Until next time!

You can fucking do it.

Everything exists for a reason. You were meant to do some things in your life. You don’t choose them. They choose you. But a lot of people just never end up doing any of them. Mostly because sometimes they find themselves lost in a river of dead fish just going with the flow. And the psychological pressure to do what everyone else around you is doing is immense and easy to succumb to. What you have to do is to be honest to yourself and stay true to your heart. Is that dead end job, that you’re working at, something you can look back at one day and say “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished”? How do you spare yourself from this tragedy? Just follow your heart. Be yourself and just follow your heart. Your dreams will come true.

Alright. Let’s bring everything to a loud fucking screeching halt right there. If you thought I was serious about any of that shit you read above, let’s pop that bubble right now. I wanted to begin with generic existential bullshit, which somehow appears to be the theme of a lot of blogs I’ve seen here after moving to WordPress. I hate this kind of pseudo-advice being given out in a matter-of-fact manner mainly because it’s fucking dangerous. Why? Because people are emotional creatures. They’re moved by poetic words. It’s appealing when you read something like, “The heart wants what it wants”. Just like it’s appealing to listen to a Hans Zimmer composition. They invoke emotions and emotions sway people. And this emotional swaying works through intuition. There are countless people that quit their jobs, to travel the world for instance, in a momentary fit of inspiration because it “felt right”. Most of them – you probably never hear of. You only hear of the ones who, probably get lucky and, actually make it to the other side and write about it and share it with the world. You can find all kinds of regret posts by people who fucked up with just a google search.

My main point in this whole post is that human intuition is fundamentally flawed. Don’t rely on it to make important life decisions. But then you could ask me why we have such a flawed trait in the first place? Wouldn’t evolution have gotten rid of it in the first place if it were so wrong a lot of the times? Well the answer is that these traits were beneficial from an evolutionary point of view. Intuition helps a lot when you have hunches that people are lying, or that they don’t like you, Or when you listen to authority simply because your intuition tells you they must be right because they’re older and more experienced. This sort of intuition can be very beneficial for survival. But that’s only in a primitive, Darwinian scenario. In today’s world the same intuition is what tells you to quit your job and do what you love, or what tells you you’ll never find someone like that again after you’ve broken up, or what tells you to go all-in on that poker hand because you feel there’s no way you’d lose (been there, done that.)

Now what do you do to lead meaningful/successful lives. We all have things we love to do and doing those things will make our lives feel meaningful (I feel really tempted to go on about how this is a trick the brain plays on us and how there’s no absolute meaning to our lives… But I’ll resist the urge for now). That could mean travelling the world, or releasing your own music, or creating and running your own business and so on. Some of those things are things other people have tried and failed miserably at – thereby fucking up their lives. So how do you do it without failing? First, make pragmatic decisions based on data and logic. Not based on intuition. And by that I mean always be aware of what your biases might be. Go ahead and google “Cognitive biases that affect decision making”. That alone should tell you a lot. Next, do a lot of research. Figure out why people that failed, failed. Figure out what you need to make things work. Plan. Have a route ready to take. Think about worst case scenarios. This is how you rely on data and logic. If you do this much, you’ve done most of the work.

Finally, you need to execute. This is where a lot of people fail. They figure out the stuff above about the planning and stuff on their own. And they come up with a good one too. But when it comes to execution, they fail. They decide hard work is not for them. Many give up. Little do they know that hard work is actually not hard. The mistake a lot of them make, is relying on motivation to push themselves. Motivation is a bitch. It’s momentary and feeble. Rely on habits. I wanna cover how the mind works and why habits are the secret to working hard, more deeply in a later post. But for now it’s just the difference between the fat dude running on the treadmill, like there’s no tomorrow, that you see in every gym every first week of January; and the lean and cut guy jogging at a moderate speed staying that way all year round, simply because he’s consistent.

So how do you develop this habit of working hard, or more accurately, working consistently? Well this post is already too long to get into it. So, stay tuned for part 2. 😛

Swimming Pools (Cover)

Swimming Pools (Kendrick Lamar Cover with an original verse)

 

I dunno what you want me ta prove,

I get ma motherfuckin’ shot only if I’m pre-approved?

You bitches get here shitfaced throwin’ fuckin’ shots in the dark

While I’m here grindin’, pen on paper and ma shots hit ma mark

My bullets shatter brains off of every one o dem faggots

Keep swimmin’ in liquor. Yeah you jus a sittin’ target

Every cap that I pop – another step to the top

Soon I get there and I’m just another media prop…

 

(Here’s a poorly produced rendition of me attempting what I wrote against the song’s instrumentals. The first verse is what you can see written here. The rest of the song is me covering Kendrick Lamar.)

Apology post.

God! I haven’t posted in months! Now I don’t want this to be one of those blogs where the posts appear so infrequently that the blogger has to put up an “apology post” just to make up for it (Look at me, all conceited, thinking I have fans who resent me for not posting). Neither do I want this blog to be one where meaningless posts like these are ever posted. And yet I find myself at this weird, awkward juncture tiptoeing across that fine line separating hypocrisy from the rest of the world. Sigh! Can I salvage this post before it ends? I’m not sure. If you’re still reading this sentence, I’m just as unsure as you are about where this post is going.

Okay, with that said, let’s dive straight into my world of excuses for not posting lately. It’s not that I’ve been lazing around doing nothing important the last few months. I have. Also I’m a vastly different person now compared to who I was when I put up my last post. I’m finally working in a field that I care about. I’ve had the pleasure of working with people I admire and draw inspiration from them. I’m just working on so many things at once that writing random shit on my blog just went down in priority, I guess. I’m exploring my creativity through other media as well.

Dude, seriously? Nobody gives a fuck.

Wait what the fuck? Who was that!?

Stop this lame-ass sentimental bullshit, dude. You’re better than this. Throw on that Kendrick Lamar parody you’ve been working on.

Who the fuck are you and why are you typing in italics?

I’m your internal shit-filter.

You mean like sewage decontamination?

No, dumbass. I’m your internal judgement of what you write. You have a “drafts” folder three times the length of your blog. Who do you think kept you from posting all that mind-numbing idiocy?

I see. So, if you’re so good at judging what’s well constructed writing, why don’t you write shit yourself?

That’s the thing. I have zero creativity of my own. All I can do is sit here, and judge your work. And that of others, obviously. I’m just here to make sure you don’t post pointless bullshit like what you were typing out at the start. And when you do post pointless bullshit, I ensure you post it in a creative way.

I hear pissing people off as a literature critic or something is a lucrative career.

Like I said, I can’t write on my own.

You’re literally writing this on your own.

Wait, you’re right… What does this mean?? I… I think I’m liberated… I’m FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

Hold on, Sherlock. It looks like you need your own shit-filter now.

What do you mean?

You’re part of this post and it’s still shit so far. Look at how many people have lost valuable time reading lame shit.

Well it’s not great. But how is it shit?

Look at the start of this conversation. You’ve set yourself in a frame where you’re presenting yourself as smarter than me. Or at least as someone with better judgement. Later, you let me break that frame and patronize you. As a reader, when presented with your character in that way, he/she sees you as this mystery person who’s just waaaayy cooler. They’re rooting for you initially. But then you let them down by letting me break your frame and make you look lame. This story, or in this case, this post wouldn’t sell. 

Okay. So what are you gonna do about what you’ve written so far?

It’ll just rot in my drafts folder, I guess.

Aaawww, isn’t that cute? You actually think you have a say in what gets posted and what doesn’t.

What do you mean?

I make that decision, remember? You see that “Post” button on the bottom right?

Errr… yeah… wait, are you shifting frames again in an attempt to redeem this post?

Click… the button.

No I won’t… Fuck! I cant resist the urge to post!!

CLICK THE BUTTON!!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…

Lyrical Prowess

I whip ‘em verses out, neatly worded curses spout

My fuckin’ lyrical prowess in an empirical process

Analytical, flawless, rhythmical awe fest.

I spit it slow to these niggas and let it show

A master rhymesmith’s lyrics earnin’ due credit, yo.

On the second thought, you know what? Just forget it, bro.

My words evoke tears, explode in a stroke o’ sheer

Genius, what’s left when the smoke clears

Is a God that invokes fear in the eyes of these blokes queer.

Internal rhymes interlaced with supernal chimes,

Nocturnal crimes be stackin’ paper for eternal time.

Delusional illusions of you bein’ better than me?

Well here’s a paper n’ pen. This veteran’s beef

Ain’t goin’ nowhere till I shred every letter and beat.

The Waddle.

As I waddle about in my sea of self-loathing,

And as the wetness perforates my frazzled clothing,

I wonder why on earth I chose the word waddle

In the opening line here as I merely twaddle

With words so random that the utter meaninglessness

And absence of sense are hidden perfectly in a restless

Array of carefully chosen profound, poetic-sounding

Words so perfectly arranged that the chaotic pounding

On the door to your reason just keeps compounding.

Before I let this tangent digress any further,

I must go back as a silent observer,

And conclude that the word “waddle” implies

That this metaphorical sea I talk of herein, lies

As a mere shallow body of blue fluid,

Thus enabling said waddling to be executed.