Sunday, March 30, 2014

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big-- Book Review (my thoughts)

 I just finished the book, “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” (2013) by Scott Adams (the famous creator of the popular comic strip Dilbert). Yes, I’m a fanatic for self-help books especially those written by people who are measurably successful outside the domain of simply being a “Self Help” author/writer.

I love Adams’ comedic yet accessible writing style. The book is filled with insights on how to be successful in your everyday life—despite one failure after another. I was shocked to learn that when he first started making his comic strip, the feedback he got via email (in the early 90’s) was excessively critical. Despite the criticism he received (for what he calls his “poor drawing skills” or perhaps the content of his comic) he had one person push him on and tell him that he was good enough the way he was doing it and that he didn’t need to make any changes, that he should maintain his style. I really liked hearing that because often times we cave in to criticism and constantly change in response to the pressure of others.

 I think one of my favorite points in the book is the Big Five Factors of Happiness which he suggests are: a flexible schedule, imagination, diet, exercise and sleep. Out of these I think imagination is the component I never paid very much attention to. Yet, as I reflect on it, I can honestly say that the seasons in my life where I’ve daydreamed and entertained intensely robust, fantastical imaginations, the better my life was (at least temporarily). Adam’s suggests “Simply imagining a better future hacks your brain chemistry and provides you with the sensation of happiness today.” and “Being happy raises your energy level and makes it easier to pursue the steps toward real world happiness.”

It’s as if certain positive images and thoughts can rearrange your thinking and free you up to seeing possibilities you never before thought were possible. This could translate to a more successful life.

It can’t hurt to entertain positive thoughts because such thoughts can bring us to new highs. When we are happier, we may take more risks and try more things. Such decisions could result in something bigger or better happening to our lives as opposed to stagnation.

You can choose to think poorly of yourself, your abilities and your potential or you can choose to think highly of yourself (this is probably a false dichotomy here). Thinking about yourself with a higher regard will be better for your overall success and achievement in this life.  We all know that this life is very short; we are constrained by time and the state of our health. Thinking negatively takes you into a state of being a pessimist. Pessimists are known to miss opportunities that optimists are able to see more readily.  If our life on this earth is already short, why would we waste time going down a path that leads to fewer opportunities when we could go down the path that presents us with more?

I am probably the ultimate pessimist. I’m trying to reframe my thinking with glasses that have flower petals attached to them, or however the cliché goes. I can envision only sunshine.  

This book also mentions the importance of richly delusional affirmations. For instance, in Adams' words an affirmation would be something akin to, “I, Scott Adams will become rich.” I’ve decided to put this affirmation thing into practice in my own life. It can’t hurt, I suppose. Declaring that you will become rich on a daily basis may sound grandiose but it is certainly better than the alternative, “I, Renee, will become poor.” And, if a person is thinking negatively on a daily basis, isn’t it almost like they’re doing just that?

But, just to keep a skeptical approach to this whole “positive affirmation” business, allow me to finish with another quote from his book, “ The reality is that if affirmations somehow steered the universe like magic, science probably would have discovered that force by now.” 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What Makes a Relationship Work? (VIDEO)

2 or 3 specific relationship tips I have discovered over the years. These are critical to first starting a relationship and then keeping it going, long-term.

HUMOR, What makes something funny??

"Being able to laugh in life reduces anxiety that, if anything, comedy may actually be good for your health."

Interesting HUMOR factoids I've collected over the years

“The top jokes all have one thing in common—they create a sense of superiority in the reader.”
 “The observation that people laugh when they feel superior to others dates back to around 400 BC and was described by Plato in the Republic.”

 "Because of the animalistic and primitive associations, Plato was not a fan of laughter. He thought that it was wrong to laugh at the misfortune of others and that hearty laughter involved a loss of control that made people appear to be less than fully human.  Plato was so concerned about this that he advised citizens to limit their attendance to comedies."

"The more superior a joke makes a person feel, the harder they laugh."

"Hitler was sufficiently concerned about the potential use of humor that he set up special “Third Reich Joke Courts” that punished people for many acts of inappropriate humor including naming their dogs, “Adolf”

"A year long study of 1,200 examples of laughing in everyday conversation revealed that 71 percent of women laugh when a man tells a joke and just 39 percent of men laugh when a woman tells a joke."

"People with high social status tend to tell more jokes than those lower down the pecking order."
  "Females are more likely to rely on self-disparaging humor"

"The animalistic release of a victorious roar at other people’s misfortune is still alive and well in the twenty-first century."

"According to Freud, jokes act as a kind of psychological release valve that help prevent the repressed pressure from becoming too great—in other words, a way of dealing with whatever it is that causes us to feel anxious."
"The most basic form of a joke is a simple pun—we find these jokes funny because of incongruity.  In many jokes there is incongruity between the set-up and the punch-line."
"People who have damage to their right hemisphere of their brain are less able to understand jokes."

"When people see or hear another person laugh they are far more likely to copy the behavior, start laughing themselves and therefore actually find the situation funny.  This is the reason why so many comedy programs carry laughter tracks."

"Professional comedians tend to come from relatively low income families and to have been unhappy children and thus their performances may represent an attempt to compensate for their difficult early experiences by gaining the afternoon of an audience. There is considerable anecdotal evidence to support this idea."
 "Woody Allen once said that the need to be accepted was one of his primary motivations for being funny."

"W.C. Fields once explained why he liked making people laugh: “At least for a short moment, they like me.”
"Some performers admitted that they were intensely curious about people and behavior how they would endlessly watch others go about their lives until they found some idiosyncrasy that could form the basis of a new joke or routine."
Seymour and Ronda Fisher noted that there were parallels between social scientists and comedians they argued that both groups are constantly on the prowl for novel perspectives on human behavior.
“Frame your mind on mirth and merriment which bars a thousand harms and lenghthens life.” William Shakespeare

My Turn:  I try to use humor while recounting a past event. 

"One time when I was 11 I was embarrassed to wear my glasses for the big family slide show. I already looked hideous at that age and wearing glasses only magnified the horror of my appearance. All of my Aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, brothers, great uncles, great ---aunts--you name it-- were present. Half-way through the slide show my grandfather happened to notice that I wasn’t wearing my glasses. Suddenly, he stops the slide show. Then he loudly announces to the large consanguineous group “The slide show is being stopped until Renee puts on her glasses.” He said this with the austerity and despotism that would have given Hitler an erection.

Every single Aunt, Uncle, cousin, brother, etc turned around and stared at me in silence. Then my Dad piped up, “You better listen to Papa and put your glasses on, he means it!”.  I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life. For the slide show to continue I had to put on my glasses—but it was worse now because everyone in the room was staring at me. There was a growing impatience in the familial crowd—either because they wanted to see how terrible I looked in my glasses or because they were anxiously waiting to see more slides of the Grand Canyon and the evidence supporting Noah’s Global flood.
 At first I refused, but then I realize that I didn’t have any options so I put on my glasses.  My cousin, thin, blonde, and well developed for an 11 year old, starts laughing at my face. I feel terrible. Meanwhile, I’m sobbing like an abused duck and the slide show continues with my Grandfather describing the layers of the Grand Canyon, Noah’s flood and how this all relates to his personal relationship with Jesus"   
    --By Renee

"Humor is incongruity plus another amusement."
"Photons have mass? I didn’t even know they were catholic."
“Why was the Amish girl stoned to death? Too Mennonite!”  Christopher Hitchens
“The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.”

There are two rednecks in a field:
Hey, you wanna play twenty questions?
Sure, lemme thinka something
Got it?
Yeah, got it. Ask me.
Is it a thing?
Can you fuck it?
Is it a goat?