Friday, March 9, 2012

Embrace Possibility

Thank you for your support of the Seemingly Useless blog. I am going to take a break for a while on this blog while I work on my main blog - Embrace Possibility Blog, which will contain articles focused on helping people reach their full potential by integrating five core areas in their life: Personal Development, Professional Development, Health, Relationships and Financial Freedom. For more details, please check out the My Philosophy page on my main website - Embrace Possibility.

Thanks again!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Warning: Get Some Sleep!

For the past few months, I've been logging my hours of sleep per night and also my general mood for the day and I've begun to see a correlation. Although this is no mystery that people that lack sleep are generally more irritable and stressed, I believe these are merely the symptoms of the bigger problem: weakening of our self control.

When I lack sleep, I find that I become undisciplined and give into my impulses and whims. I am unable to resist foods that I shouldn't eat, I cut my exercise routines short and I can't reign in my negative emotions (fear, anger, frustration, etc). I also can't control what I want to say despite knowing the consequences. Being in this state is a vicious cycle that leads to bad decisions and actions which leads to even more frustration not only because of the situation itself but my apparent in ability to stop the downward spiral.

The oft quoted line of the Greek Stoic, Epictetus, "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.", truly holds the secret to happiness. Unfortunately when I lack sleep, I no longer have control of my reactions. Now this doesn't mean that I should not be held responsible for my actions because I definitely am accountable. I lack sleep due to the choices I make (working late, hanging out with friends, waking up early, etc). The good thing is that now that I have made this connection between sleep and self control, it impresses upon me the importance of a good night's rest and on the occasions that I don't get enough sleep, I need to be extra cautious of the things I do and say and be more vigilant with myself. 

Now for all of you statisticians that argue correlation is not causation, you are correct. At the same time, my belief is no "cum hoc ergo propter hoc" (latin for correlation proves causation) but rather a function of my experience and intuition. Not very scientific but you always have the choice to agree or disagree with my views.

For those who has experienced the connection between sleep and self control and want to improve their sleeping habits, here is a link on How to Sleep Better.

Ok, time for me to get ready for bed.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Be Individual! Be on the edge...always

In this society, most people blend in because that is what is easy and comfortable. Everyone wants to belong to a group (even those who claim they don't want to conform to a group belong to a group that "doesn't like conforming to groups"). But what is valuable (something/someone that creates real value) is not conformity and people who always stay within their comfort zone but rather those who push to their outer limits and test themselves by being always on the edge of failing. The ones who truly succeed are the one that actually push so far that they fall off the edge and fail but know that it is a necessary step if they always want to expand their potentials.

In light of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, where many people lost their lives due to no fault of their own, it serves as a painful reminder to not waste the time we have because we really do not know how much we have. I encourage everyone to

Live, Work, Eat, Sleep, Play, Read, Pray, Love on the edge.

Enough of the somber. Here is a video by an artist working on the edge (Perfect for fans of creativity, breakdancing and cinematography). Enjoy!

Friday, August 5, 2011

How to Think Outside of the Box - Blending In

Here is some creative art that was sent to me recently that I thought was worth posting. It is really inspiring to see the out of the box ideas that people come up with and a good reminder that it hasn't all been thought of yet.

Artist Liu Bolin at the Supermarket 

It took me a while to realize that these were all real people.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Power of Choice - Liberating or Crippling Social Growth?

I recently stumbled upon this video by RSA: Ideas and Actions for the 21st Century Enlightenment which I thought was very interesting. In addition to the unique method of animation, the message was thought provoking. The basic premise is that having the ability to choose is actually very crippling. Since there is always a loss of other opportunities when you make a choice, the fear of losing actually paralyzes people from making the best choice for both themselves and society. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Shocking Truth About Poor People - Something for Nothing Syndrome

There are many diseases out there in the world, but there none of them have affected as many people as negatively as the "Something for Nothing" syndrome.

Let's face it. No matter what some may say, almost all of us want to be rich and successful. 

Now for some good news and bad news:

Good news: Anyone can become rich and successful as long as they can offer more value than what they get paid for. (that's it)

Bad news: Many people end up doing the exact opposite (myself included)

And the result is that most people don't end up where they want to be. 

Before speculating why this happens, let's first look at some manifestations of the "Something for Nothing" syndrome:

1) The Lottery: We're all seduced by "a dollar and a dream" but every time I've bought a lottery ticket, I've been left with "an expired lottery ticket and disappointment". Trying to get $383 million with $10 is a bit far fetched but millions of people are still playing every day. The same goes for other forms of gambling such as blackjack, poker, roulette, stock market speculation, sports betting, etc.

2) Cheating: Top scores without studying; Ponzi Schemes (Madoff anyone?); Use of performance enhancing or weight loss drugs; The long term results are usually pretty poor.

3) Slacking off: People who try to do as little as possible in their jobs and find ways to get through the day doing nothing. (There are people who actually brag about their prowess in this)

The list can go on and on (even extreme bargaining is a form of this syndrome) but one thing all of these examples have in common is that most of the people engaging in such activities are NOT rich or successful. Go to any casino and look around you - what type of people do you see? Usually the low to lower middle class, trying to "make it". I would not be surprised if the same demographic made up the majority of lottery players. The same goes for the slackers and the cheaters, how many of them do you know have been able to sustainably become wealthy and successful. 

Yes, there are cheaters, slackers and gamblers that get rich but the key word is "sustainable". At the same time the percentage of people with the "Something for Nothing" syndrome that do get rich is extremely small if any. 

So why does this happen? 

People are motivated towards pleasure and away from pain and the "Something for Nothing" syndrome appeals to both of these motivational directions. When you can obtain something without doing anything, you have gained pleasure without incurring any pain. Secondly, anyone who enjoys taking the easy way out or wants to be rich immediately will be prone to activities such as gambling because there is no other place where you can get a 100% return on your investment (if you can call it that) in less than a minute. 

Unfortunately for those suffering from this syndrome, the natural law is that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction so if you give nothing, naturally you will get nothing. On the other hand, if you give more value, you should receive more money in return. 

Despite learning that "There is no such thing as a free lunch" in my first economics class more than a decade ago, I've been afflicted with this syndrome myself and only recently realized the power of being "valuable". I use to brag about working only a few hours a day, winning at the casino or getting a crazy bargain but now I realize that all those things have worked against me in becoming truly successful. I now constantly look for ways I can add value for my employer, friends, clients and loved ones and I have found life much more enjoyable. 

Directions for being successful: Just add value.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Thomas Jefferson's Guide on How to Behave!

Much like Poor Richard's Thirteen Virtues, our third president and author of the Declaration of Independence also had his own rules of conduct. Despite it being over 200 years old, many if not all of these ideas are still relevant today. I believe that taking advice from one of the founding fathers of this nation is never a bad thing.

Here are Thomas Jefferson's Rules of Conduct:
  1. Never put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today (Very useful if you really want to get things done)
  2. Never trouble another for what you can do for yourself (Self-help is the common denominator of all successful people)
  3. Never spend money before you have it (We've all learned the value of this rule ... or have we?)
  4. Never buy anything you do not want because it is cheap (Good response to Groupon, Living Social and any other deal sites that tempt you to buy things you don't really want)
  5. Take care of your change; dollars will take care of themselves ("Sweat the small stuff") 
  6. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold (I think it is safe to assume we all know how expensive and costly pride can be)
  7. We never repent for having eaten too little (I've never had a good feeling walking out of a buffet - also I hear those who eat less calories/day live longer)
  8. Nothing is troublesome that one does of his own volition (Have a passion and you'll never be unfulfilled - what's mundane to one person may not be so to another)
  9. How much pain has cost us the evils which have never happened (Stop worrying - you're just wasting energy that can be better used)
  10. Take things always by their smooth handle (Always use tact and go for win-win outcomes)
  11. Think as you please, and so let others, and you will have no disputes (Don't judge, everyone has their own truth and perceptions so respect that)
  12. When annoyed, count 10 before you speak. If very annoyed, count 100 (Works every time, just try it)

The actual document from