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fake news

All News Is Fake News

Fake News has been around forever, well, at least as long as there has been news. But recently it has become a sort of joke about what the press has become. Fake news is said to be a threat to society, but not for the reasons you’d expect.

We are told that ‘fake news‘ is out to trick us and influence us into believing things that are not true. That may be the case, but at times, the label is used to censor voices that are not approved.

Fake news is a perfect tool to silence dissident voices. The problem is that it comes at a time when it is difficult to trust the so-called good guys.

We think we know who the good guys are, but can we trust them? Can we be sure that they are even trying to tell the truth? After all, they have been wrong about many issues over the years.

Consider these examples, most of the popular news sources were sure that Donald Trump would lose the election. They were confident that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And they were satisfied that no severe economic issues were coming in 2008.

Being cynical about what seems to be happening to the mainstream media. The use of Fake news could be about lost revenues and jealousy rather than truth.

The traditional press is getting killed by new media, like alternative news and YouTube. The changing of the guard could be an incentive to try and silence those who are profiting from this transition.

The 24 Hour News Cycle

There are different types of fake news with varying degrees of falsehood. Absurd conspiracy theories are not at the same level as CNN. But it would be difficult to believe that CNN wasn’t fake to some extent.

Suggesting this isn’t to point the finger at CNN specifically, as Donald Trump did. Instead, it is to make light of the fact that CNN is the biggest name in the news.

Profits power CNN, and it is without a doubt a business. Earning money for news means that its primary aim is ratings and ad revenue. This motivator also suggests that the primary drive isn’t information, but entertainment. Even worse, this means sensationalism needs to be a part of the day to day news cycle.

Compounding this, 24-hour news sources are often a mix of news and opinion. At the best of times, it is hard to tell the difference. Usually, the only thing we can be sure of is that it is likely a mix of the two.

The Problem With Political News

Another kind of fake news comes from sources that have a different political agenda. By necessity, a different political view comes from a different worldview.

Our worldview is an all-encompassing filter of what goes in and comes out of our minds. Meaning our worldview changes the way we see the world and events.

People on the left and right often have conflicting views. A lazy but popular option is to call the other opinion fake. When you disagree with a person’s worldview, most of what they say will not make sense to you.

Ideology creates a subtle form of fake news, as the falsehood comes from political views rather than facts.

Obvious vs. Hidden Bias

When someone is racist or sexist, their bias is often apparent. In a way, it stands out, in part because we are primed to notice these sorts of differences in people.

But other types of biases are much less clear. A great example is the bias of someone who grew up in America. This bias wouldn’t be apparent to most Americans, but Canadians can spot it.

There are always biases in people’s worldview. These biases are influenced by where someone comes from and how they are raised. Professional journalists tend to have a lot in common. They usually live in major urban centres and attended university. They will also have grown to respect news, as they choose it as a career.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this, only that it is a factor in anything they produce. Unfortunately, this worldview is not obvious, yet plays a significant role in any content created.

To be clear, when people say fake news, they often mean false or untrue news. But I’d argue, it is more subjective and based on the personal views of the speaker.

Bias Becomes Invisible When Everyone Shares It

In newsrooms, schools, businesses and families, people tend to share similar beliefs. The sharing of views means that any bias amongst them is not visible or noticeable.

The deeper problem comes from human nature, as we often connect with people who we agree. In a sense, we unintentionally create a bubble where we usually only hear opinions with which we already agree.

Due to this problem, we also get less exposure to outside or controversial ideas. Control like this influences the way we perceive events and how we make sense of matters. The difficulty that comes from this is that it is common with the people around us, so it acts like a feedback loop. Our opinions now feed the views we hear about later.

People don’t intend to repeat biases. They are merely trying to be honest about what they believe.

Trusted Sources

When it comes to the news, we go to our trusted sources. We go to the places that we believe we can rely on to be honest. But these sources do the same thing for their information. They use similar sources over and over again because they believe they are truthful.

The problem with this is that it relies on a regression to the past. You believe the story today because the story yesterday seemed to be true.

The problem with a trusted source is that we always go to it for facts. But this means that they have informed our current opinions of what the facts are. For this reason, our views of what is trustworthy become cloudy.

For something to be a fact, it must come from a trusted source. But this reliance is circular, as we use what we already know as support for what we accept today.

What Are Facts Anyway?

There are often few facts for any event. If there is a shooting, we may know who the victim and shooter were. There are also the other W’s like ‘what,’ ‘where,’ and ‘when.’ But much of how the story is told is coloured by hidden bias.

If the story has a social justice aspect to it, it implies moral signalling. When race is a factor, it will bring its own assumptions. If there is a lot of depth that brings previously held ideas with it.

For simple events, the facts may be apparent. But most events are complicated, and complexity creates obscurity.

Science takes years of study to certify a single fact. How can a story written in a day get anywhere near the truth?

Besides, not giving all the facts may be a form of lying. The choice of what to include can often paint a different picture.

On top of this, it is impossible to get the whole story, as some angles are hidden or undeclared.

Now To The Risk Of Censorship

The biggest concern with fake news is that it creates a justification for censorship. The left and right label things as fake news to have them removed from public discussion.

Another issue is that if the news doesn’t come from a trusted source, it is by definition fake. This is dangerous because it stops less popular ideas from gaining traction. But it also can act as a barrier to entry for new news sources. If a story isn’t from a trusted source, it can be shadow-banned without notice.

Control like this creates a situation where only the editors of existing trusted sources can decide what is right. In a sense, they get to choose what the truth is.

An aggregator like Facebook also gets to decide what is real, because they control what you see. They can easily block stories that make them or their sponsors look bad. Censorship has already happened many times with Google and will continue in the future.

The risk is that if we are willing to label things as fake, then the line becomes less clear. This kind of censorship takes away our choice and inevitably controls what people say in public.

Is It Bad?

Yes, but fake news is only a problem if we let it get out of control.

It’s often impossible to know what is right, but letting someone else decide is extremely dangerous. We need to make better choices as consumers, and we need to choose our sources and not let someone else decide for us.

In the end, it is all fake news, and the real story is often only a matter of opinion.

robot and ai

What Happens When Robots and AI Take Over?

We take our rights for granted, we figure they are a regular part of life. We also assume we will continue to have these rights and privileges forever.

But what if we only have these rights because we were born at the right time in the right place. What if these rights and privileges only exist because they make us more valuable to the state. Said another way, we get them because they make us better workers.

If this is true, does it mean in time things will change? What if our economies stop functioning the way they do, could these motivations disappear? If collected taxes reduce or governments run out of cash, will they stop protecting us?

Even the most fundamental right, the right to vote comes from the idea that we are valuable to our countries. In exchange for working, we have the right to have our voices heard.

Here Come The Robots

Robots and AI are poised to take over the world by doing most of the work. Will we be valued for our ability to work when a computer can do it better? If this were to happen, we would stop being valuable to the economy. If we aren’t of value, our opinions will stop mattering as well.

In Canada, we have what we call free healthcare, though we all pay for it. The main reason our governments use our tax dollars to pay for this service is that it helps us work better. In turn, working better is of value to the corporations that pay taxes to the government, so it works out.

If we get sick, the health care system repairs us so we can return to work. When companies no longer need us, they won’t want governments to pay for our healthcare. The same reasoning would go for education and public transit.

Consider Today’s Homeless

Today, we can already see this happening in ways. Homeless people tend not to contribute to the economy, so they slip through the cracks. In a sense, they become invisible.

In practice, without an address, it is difficult to vote. Even worse, it is hard to get a job or an ID. As people become “useless” they fall away from societal support.

Proximity also relates to our consciousness of people. As we see people less, we have fewer thoughts about them, and their importance to us decreases. Seeing people as useful is unfair but is often how our social connections work.

On a grand scale, as more jobs get replaced by robots and AI, more humans will be forgotten. People, in general, will become less valuable as they will provide less value.

Is there an easy way out of this situation? Will there be a future for the regular people who don’t create AI and robots?

Some companies will try to slow down this transition due to its cost. But at some point, it will become impossible to avoid letting the robots take over.

What Will The Future Bring

In the future, owning a robot or AI may be the only way to make money.

Even worse, the people with all the money now will also have all the robots and AI. With this, the gap between the rich and poor will grow even more extreme.

This future sounds scary, but is there something we can do to avoid it? What can we do to prepare?

We need a better democracy. Also, we need a political system where people matter more than money and efficiency. We need to figure out better ways to reward people for the value they create.

memes not genes

The Power Of Memes

The Selfish Gene was a paradigm-shifting book on the ideas of evolution. Near the end, Dawkins talks about the power of memes and how they play a role in our evolution. Memes turn out to be a significant factor in our development that is often not considered.

When thinking about genes and evolution, the process often seems slow. Our genetic evolution can only happen from one generation to the next. In reality, it takes many generations for any significant change to occur. Most of us will be dead before any meaningful changes can happen.

Evolutionary timelines are where memes become essential. You could even argue that they are a driving force in our collective evolution. Given recent history, memes are what has made us who we are.

Memes Are Like Genes

Genes have a desire to survive, so they do whatever it takes. Survival in this sense means living on into the next generation. Being passed onto offspring and continuing to live is their ultimate goal.

Survival is especially necessary for genes because when their host dies, they also die. Unless they have been able to pass themselves on, they will be gone forever.

The power of memes is like the power of genes, except instead of being in our DNA, they take up space in our minds.

Meme survival requires that they stay in peoples minds. But they can also survive in books and recordings. The memes found in the bible have had a long lifetime. But even those memes are only a bleep when compared to the longevity of many of our genes.

Evolution in Individuals and Groups

Genes, influence the evolution of our species and groups of individuals. Memes do the same, but if you were to see something happening, it would almost always be in the evolution of memes. Genes are slow and can take generations to pass on.

A virus is an excellent comparative example. The spread of the flu is a method of evolution, as it can act as a culling mechanism. At the same time, it pushes genetic information into infected people, who can then pass it on.

Memes can be learnt fast and change a person in an instant, thus acting like a virus.

From this perspective, people change via their ideas. Facebook as a meme has had a significant effect on the lives of many people around the world. It has caused an evolution of behaviour and a substantial change in lifestyle. This change has been in the ways of individuals, but this also affects the groups.

The Layers of Languages and Ideas

As a child it is easy to pick up a language, at least it seems that way. It is in our nature as children to pick up on what is happening around us. Noam Chomsky suggests this is the case because all humans have a built-in universal grammar. Which could be described as structures in the brain that make picking up languages possible.

Later in life if you learn a second language, you build it up on top of your native language. In this sense, every new word becomes a reference to another word. This is in a sense, the power of memes, they make up everything inside of our heads.

When you start learning a language, you think in your native language then translate to the new one. You continue to use these references as you move forward.

As you get better, the new language builds on its own. Developing structures is also how new ideas and memes work. We have base ideas or groundwork for what we know. From there, we build up new ideas branching from the old and creating new structures.

As we learn new memes, they build on the memes we already know. Our ideas and thoughts layer on top of each other. Layering also means that the meaning of a meme comes from the memes that came before it. Evolution, in this case, is an adaption of our cognitive environment.

What we do is a response to the environment, both physical and mental. The physical environment introduces us to ideas, and our minds adapt and respond. As we evolve in a cognitive sense, our minds change and become something new. From here, our new mental framework acts as an influential factor.

Stories Change Actions

Our stories influence our actions. They lead the way even when we don’t realize it. Memes make up our stories, so memes affect our efforts.

A great example of this is our story about money. Money has no intrinsic value and doesn’t mean anything on its own. It is pieces of paper with ink on them. That said, the stories we tell about money are what gives it its power.

The story is what matters. It gets us out of bed in the morning and has us rushing to work. But the story also tells us it is ok to get a couple of drinks after a, particularly stressful day.

In this sense, we could say stories are a sort of virus of the mind. It gets in, infects us and has us doing things we didn’t do before.

If stories can change our lives and lead us to do things, then we can see them as influencers. Ideas and memes are the genes of action. For this reason, the power of memes is important, because they have the ability to change us and our actions.

If you want people to do something, a good story is a significant first step. The better the story, the better the influence. The easier it spreads, the faster that the meme becomes viral.

Ideas Are Contagious

Like the flu during the winter, Pokemon Go spread across the globe in a few weeks.

Throughout time, the speed at which ideas can travel has continued to increase. Centuries ago, it would take years for an idea to spread across a country.

With the printing press, ideas started to move much faster. Now, we find ourselves in an age where ideas can spread like wildfire. According to Marshall McLuhan, this is because we live in a global village.

China is well aware of this issue and has made significant efforts to lock down ideas. The risks of ideas are part of the reason why the great firewall exists.

In the west, we have a so-called problem with fake news. There are calls to control and moderate stories and sources.

With the right environment, ideas can spread and replicate. In time, they become more prominent than they were ever intended. They can even become something completely different. The power of memes is that they have so much potential, often much more then we expect or can understand.

As social networks grow the world will become smaller and ideas will pass around faster. This passage of memes is causing a global evolution.

Ideas Can Change the World, And That is The Power of Memes

Ideas can spread fast and change the world in the process. Like Google has taken over the search world, dangerous ideas can do the same thing. As the technology to spread ideas becomes more available so too will viral ideas.

Unfortunately, with evolution, things don’t always go in the ‘best’ direction. Evolution is about adapting to environments, but that doesn’t guarantee peace.

With our new found power comes a risk, what if a dangerous viral meme comes along. At the same time, we can have optimism as a great idea could bring us to paradise. Unfortunately, we never know which ones will take hold, so we never know what the future will bring.

bitcoin

Bitcoin Made Super Simple

Did you know you don’t need to own a whole bitcoin? Parts of a bitcoin can be bought and sold.

If you mention Bitcoin or people hear about it on TV, they will ask ‘What is a bitcoin?’ The answer can be simple, or at least it seems like it should be.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency. Decentralized means there is no bank, government or individual who controls it. Instead, it’s powered by a network of computers that share information.

A cryptocurrency is a digital asset based on cryptography. You can think of cryptography as complicated math.

When people think of currency, they often imagine something they can hold in their hand, like a coin or paper. Handling with your hands is not the case with bitcoin, in fact, you can never have a bitcoin.

Bitcoins are on the block-chain. You can’t ‘have’ or ‘own’ bitcoins, rather you hold the ‘password’ to send and receive them.

You might be wondering, what is the blockchain. It is a chain of blocks. For bitcoin, a block is 10 minutes of transaction time. During this time transfers of bitcoin are recorded in a ledger. A ledger is a digital record of the ins and outs from different accounts. To keep things simple, you can see it as an online spreadsheet.

Say I send 0.005 bitcoin to my mom. The ledger would record: Rob -0.005 -> Mom +0.005 (March 5, 7:18 am)

The ledger keeps a record of all the transactions that occur over the 10 minutes of a block. During this time bitcoins are created, and the transaction is recorded.

During the block, math is done to create a long, complicated number called a hash. The hash then represents the block.

That number is created using the hash from the previous block. It also uses some other input numbers, but the details are not crucial for this explanation.

This new number and the previously created number are now chained together. You can look at one block and figure out the previous block number or hash. The linking goes on forever, all the way to the first block.

Where are bitcoins?

When people have bitcoins, it sounds like they are stashed on a computer or cell phone. On the ‘Big Bang Theory’ bitcoin episode, the guys talked about their bitcoins being on a USB drive.

This is a good metaphor but isn’t correct. You can not hold bitcoins, or put them on a USB drive. Bitcoins only exist on the blockchain, the ledger we talked about earlier.

Bitcoins are exchanged from person to person, but they never go anywhere. The thing that changes is the account or the keys.

When someone has bitcoins, they only have the ‘key’ or ‘password’ for a bitcoin address.

It may seem confusing but think of it like online banking. Your money is in an account. When you make an online payment, the money is transferred from one account to another. But along the way, no one ever holds or sees the money. For the most part, it is stored on computers and is only numbers on screens.

When you use bitcoin, you ‘sign’ transactions with your private ‘key.’ You then use the public ‘key’ of the person you are sending them too. In this case, the ‘key’ is like an account number. Afterward, the blockchain ledger is updated, and the coins are ‘moved.’ In reality, only the permissions on who can move the bitcoin changes.

There are many ways to store bitcoins, but all of them are secure ways of saving the ‘keys’ to your account.

The non-physical aspect could be a problem for some people. Bitcoin isn’t something you can hold, touch or see. But then again, any money in a bank account is the same.

How do you mine Bitcoins?

At the risk of making things complicated, let’s stick to the basics. Bitcoin works on something called proof-of-work. What this means, is that a computer on the network proves its dedication by doing work.

Every ten minutes or so, new blocks are created, for this, work needs to be done. The work consists of trying to figure out a huge number. The number is massive, but it doesn’t need to be perfect, only close enough.

During this time bitcoin transactions are recorded. A unique transaction is written showing new bitcoins that got mined.

There are lots of computers doing this at the same time, so whoever gets there first wins. If many computers get there at the same time, there is a little bit of randomness to determine who wins.

Proof-of-work means showing all the attempts or guesses at getting the right number. That processing is the work, and you could see it if you wanted to.

One way that people make this more manageable is by joining a pool. A pool is a group of computers that pool their computing power and distribute the work. The idea being that with more computers, it takes less time, as one computer doesn’t need to do all the work.

The rewards of mining is an incentive to keep the network alive. You can make money by supporting the system.

One last thing, every four years or so, the size of the reward gets cut in half. Smaller production, in part, limits the number of coins, but could also push up the price.

Who created Bitcoin?

Satoshi Nakamoto is the creator of bitcoin. But, no one knows who he is. The prevailing view is that his name is a pseudonym for someone else or a group of people.

No one knows for sure, and there are lots of theories but nothing substantial. Regardless, whoever they are, they must be smart and knowledgeable.

Part of the mystery of bitcoin is the story of who created it, for now, no-one knows. But if that were to change, that could take away some of bitcoins magic.

How does the price get set?

People are more concerned about the price of bitcoin than anything else. But how does the price get set?

The idea is that there is a limited supply. At the same time, in the future, fewer will come into being each day. In time, there will be no more new coins.

With regular money, more is made whenever the central bank decides it needs it. With bitcoin, there is a predefined limit to the supply. In total, 21 million bitcoins can exist, and only that many will ever be.

The supply is also limited because many bitcoins have been misplaced forever. Meaning whoever owned them, lost the ‘keys’ to the account and will not be able to move them.

Scarcity is part of what drives the price, and people want to have something when there is a limited supply. Others believe that bitcoin is the currency of the future, so they keep it with the hope of getting rich.

It is hard to know how much bitcoin is worth. But for diehard fans, that is not the goal. They want to see a future where Bitcoin is part of our day to day lives. They want to be able to trade bitcoins for products and services, not money.

In this view, the price of bitcoin won’t matter. What will be more critical, is the price of things in bitcoin.

Should you buy bitcoin?

Don’t ask me! Bitcoin is too complicated for most people at this point.

Will it be worth something in the future?

If you are into the technology, it might be worth playing around. And if it stays around, it will get easier to use, and more people will jump on board.

If you want to become rich, that is another question. Some people believe bitcoin will be worth a million dollars, while others see it going to zero.

If you believe in the technology, it is something to try out. And at least if you understand it, you can make a better choice.

many stories

The Transformative Power Of Stories

Our lives are a series of stories, and you define yourself with the stories you tell. You also represent others with the stories you believe about them. In turn, the world is the way it is because of the stories we all know.

On top of this, our brains have evolved to understand, appreciate and create stories.

Even our sense of time is a story. But, many of our stories wouldn’t make sense without our linear view of time. In this regard, our stories about time make other stories possible.

We often think of stories as something found in a book. But instead, they are an essential layer in our lives and concept of reality. Stories play a role in determining where we are, and where we are going. We can’t expect to get anywhere without a good story.

Stories As Explanations For What We Do

Often we do things for reasons that we can’t explain. At times, we may not even understand why we did them at all. Other times, we can not be sure about what happened. It is also easy to construct a story that dismisses our errors.

When we acknowledge something was our fault, we must also admit we were wrong. But even then we may tell a story that will absolve our responsibility.

But often or explanations only come after someone asks “Why did you do that?” This point is when we construct a story for ourselves, otherwise we merely except them.

Usually, we call others explanations excuses. This accusation is especially true if someone doesn’t come out and say “Yes, it was me!” We want to accept people for their mistakes, at the same time, we don’t want to know the reason for them.

Part of the problem is that, inside our heads, there is always an explanation. You closed the door because it was cold. You turned down the radio because it was loud.

But sometimes, things are hiding in our stories, things we don’t want to acknowledge. You closed the door because you didn’t want the bother. You turned off the radio because the song reminded you of your ex.

The point is that we need stories to connect what happens with what we did. A good narrative unites events together. A great story makes sense of things that made no sense before.

At times our stories are not beneficial to someone else when they are only looking for a sorry. But at its core, our stories serve as an explanation for what we have done, even if they aren’t true.

Stories To Excuse Other People

The same way we explain ourselves, we also use stories to describe other people.

We tell stories as excuses for what other people have done. In this sense, we see the things, that we assume happened before, being the cause of what happened later. But there is a choice about what events or points we add to our stories.

Again, we use a story to connect events in a linear order. The need for this stems from the way our minds work. We need explanations, and we need them now. The more straightforward a story is, the better.

The story we tell can go in both directions. We can use a story to explain why someone is evil and should be punished. Or we can use a story to describe why it wasn’t their fault and they aren’t guilty. Sometimes the same narrative can do both.

Either way, we use stories to justify our views of people and the things they have done.

You could argue that we are justifying our opinions and not the things that happened. But, we need our stories to connect the things that happen with the way we feel.

We Use Stories To Explain Who We Are

Often, we have an explanation or an excuse for who we are and why we did the things that we did.

To an outsider, our stories might be random or missing critical facts. A family member could see the events in a different light. They may value one thing over another. Our parents may have grand stories that explain everything about us.

We all have stories, and our stories interact with the stories of the people in our lives.

As we grow old, we forget some stories, while emphasizing others. We may not have much say, over which stories matter to us, our brains decide for us.

In time we have stories that we hold dear and accept that they explain who we are. These grand narratives determine which pieces are essential and those that are not.

At the same time, our stories may not be meaningful to anyone else. They don’t even have to be accurate. Our stories are often only for ourselves, and they play a critical role in explaining who we are and where we are.

Stories Explain Who We Want To Be

In another sense, we use stories to explain where we are going. These stories at their core are meaningful to us, they guide our decision making and tell us what we need to do next.

As an example, consider the story of becoming a doctor. From that, you believe studying is essential and that you can study hard enough to succeed. You also think that studying will get you into the school you want. From there you need to believe that your hard work will pay off.

These beliefs come from stories. You know doctors and assume they studied hard, graduated and passed their tests.

We use stories to tell us where we want to go. Then we use other peoples stories to tell us how to get there or justify them. At its core, there is a story behind every person and choice. We use narrative to explain and justify what we do.

Better Stories Make A Better Life

If we use stories to explain what we do, then we must assume that people who are successful, have better stories. If a story is excellent, then it gets spectacular results.

It is also true that people from wealthy families are more likely to be affluent themselves. The explanation for this may come down to the stories they have about what has happened.

Take the example of someone who grows up without a positive role model. They will not have stories that explain how they can get to where they want to go. If you’ve never seen success, how can you replicate it? How can you see the connection between actions and results without an example?

Someone whose parents create a business will hear stories that explain the success. In particular, what they did right and how someone could replicate the results.

In this sense, it’s obvious what a differences a story can make. If you know someone who did something, you have an account and are more likely to believe. If you have never heard a compelling story, you will not think something is possible.

We Need To Write Better Stories

If the story I have told so far is acceptable, then you can see the importance of stories in your life.

You can also see the difference a good story makes. Thinking something is possible, makes it so.

The first thing you must do is accept that stories matter. In this sense, writing in a journal is an excellent way to get your stories out. You should write about the events that were important to you, those that explain who you are and why.

From these stories you get a better sense of who you are because you have them written down. Having them written down lets you be more reasonable about them.

The next step is to read them and see what could have been different or what you had no control over.

From these understandings, you can gain insights into how to do things better next time. You may obtain the perspective that something wasn’t your fault. You can’t blame yourself for things outside of your control.

Finally, once you understand who and why you are, you also have an appreciation for the effects those stories had on you.

Later you can write a story about the future you want. If you’ve learnt from the past, then you know what is possible. Then you can write a compelling story that will guide you to where you need to go.

Once you’ve written a better story, you have an idea of what you need to do to get there. Think of the story as a blueprint, it tells you what to do, but not all the details.

From here you can write better stories about how to get what you want. Sometimes you may need to write stories about what will happen if you don’t take action. A lousy potential story at times can be enough to motivate you to live a better life.

If you believe stories matter, then you must write better stories for yourself.

agreeable people

The Double-Edged Sword of Agreeability

Agreeableness is a “Big Five” personality trait. It is characterized by kindness, warmth, consideration, and sympathy.

In general, it is a personality trait that helps us work together in a civil society. Agreeableness is essential because it helps us avoid conflict and escalated situations.

People who score high on agreeability tend to be altruistic, trustworthy and empathetic. People who score low, lack empathy, are less reliable and are often thought of as selfish.

It seems to make sense that most people are agreeable because in a social sense it makes everyone safer. But, with any trait, some people score low. With agreeableness, scoring low is often negative, but it isn’t always bad when it comes to success.

Agreeable Children Turn Into Agreeable Adults

It is hard to say where personality traits come from, but it is some combination of genes and environment. That said, children who are agreeable, tend to grow up and become agreeable adults.

Children with high agreeability externalize emotions, meaning they talk about them more often. Expressing feelings leads to better outcomes, by dealing with problems more efficiently.

At least in part because of this, they are also more likely to avoid confrontations and conflict. Avoidance, in turn, creates a more healthy sense of self and self-esteem.

Studies show that people with low agreeability are more likely to experience depression. Later in life, they are more likely to get divorced or have bad personal relationships.

Holding A Grudge or Getting Over It

Agreeable people are less likely to hold a grudge and more likely to avoid conflict. Not tending to engage in dispute, explains why they are more likely to be happy and have healthy relationships.

Holding a grudge is stressful and leads to adverse outcomes in relationships. Imagine being in a relationship with someone who never lets anything go. Resentment between the two of you would keep building over time.

Resentment could explain why divorce is common amongst people with low agreeability. It is hard to keep friends and have positive social interactions if you can’t get over the mistakes of the past.

One unexpected outcome happens during arguments. People who score high for agreeability would rather de-escalate and avoid the conflict. They will see this as a positive outcome because it avoided adverse effects.

But, people who score low, will see this outcome as a win for them. The same result will mean different things based on your score for this trait.

Agreeableness Leads To Longevity

Agreeable people, who are more likely to have healthy relationships also live longer. There is little doubt that healthy relationships are essential. Strong human connections are a basic necessity of life and a feature of blue zone people.

Poor relationships relate to the stress and depression found in people with lower agreeability. If you don’t trust people and they don’t trust you, you are always going to feel left out. As a result, you will dedicate more resources to stress than living well.

Stress has adverse effects on health. So anything that creates tension creates health problems and poor long-term outcomes.

People who experience a lot of stress or depression are more likely to abuse substances. Depression could explain the correlation between low agreeableness and substance abuse. Also, this demonstrates why people are more likely to have health issues.

Where You Live Matters

Studies have found that in the US, people on the coasts tend to score lower on agreeableness. While people in the middle of the country score higher, this is the idea of southern hospitality.

In smaller towns, it is easier to know the people you interact with on a regular basis. Knowing the people around you encourages camaraderie and a willingness to care.

But the cause of a lower score could relate to living in a city. The city is jam-packed, and there are always many people around, but you most likely do not know them.

In the city, it is more difficult as you are less likely to know your neighbours. At the same time, they are less likely to see you or care about your wellbeing. This lack of connection with neighbours leads to lower connectedness in general.

We could make a compelling argument for environmental causes causing agreeableness scores. Though, people low in agreeability may come to cities or places with lots of people. Reason being, the lack of community may be what attracts them.

What Happens At Work

Now, this is where it gets interesting.

People with low agreeability tend not to do well at work. Often because they are not great at relationships, leading to less stability. Part of the reason is that they aren’t seen as trustworthy and don’t trust their coworkers.

Interestingly, people with low agreeability sometimes do better in competitive environments. Notably, they are more successful in management. Success happens because people are unafraid of conflict and are willing to ‘win’ at the expense of being liked.

Put another way, people high in agreeability are liked at the office, but may not be respected. It is easy to approve someone who is kind and friendly. But it is also easy to take advantage of them because they will not do anything about it.

In these cases, disruption isn’t always harmful. If everyone in a meeting is agreeable, the problematic person gets to lead. In a sense, disagreeable people are more likely to make a fuss about problems. So in this regard, they are more likely to precipitate solutions.

Different Views Of Success

Disagreeable people make more money and are better managers if they can stick around. But people who are too agreeable will likely stay at the bottom of a company. At the same time, they are taken advantage of and keep silent about it.

More, being a regular worker may be suited for people with high agreeability. Management may be best suited for those with low agreeability.

In this sense, success can be characterized in two ways. First, the more traditional view where people gain power and pay. Alternatively, people are liked by the people around them.

A mismatch like this is a problem for people who are ambitious but lack the personality. It is difficult for an agreeable person to succeed in competitive environments when they can’t be disagreeable. In part, because they are not willing to cause conflict, they won’t take risks and move forward.

But this problem exists everywhere, and not only at work. Being too agreeable can be detrimental to your relationships. It is especially a problem when you don’t stand up for yourself.

Also, you may always agree with what other people want and forget what you want. With enough of this, your life could become unsatisfying because you don’t ever get what you want.

What Does This Mean

In many ways being agreeable is a great trait. It will help you live longer, have better social interactions and relationships. It will also give you a better chance at avoiding depression and substance abuse.

Being too agreeable means, you are more likely to be taken advantage of and do poorly in management. It also means you may not be considered an earnest person.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of control over our personalities by the time we are adults. But it is essential to understand the consequences of our traits none the less. This awareness is helpful, and we may be able to do things differently if we recognize the problem.

In this sense, it is essential to work on being a more disagreeable if you are too agreeable. You also need to learn to be firm about what you want and believe. The change will be difficult, but also life changing at times.

family being amazing

8 Ways You Become More Amazing After Having Kids

People tend to talk about negative things when talking about their kids. You are more likely to hear that kids keep you up all night than that they make you a better person.

The problem is that it makes some people think having kids is a bad idea. But that isn’t true, children are a challenge, but they change your life for the better. Having kids forces you to be more amazing.

The reason why this is important is that people often hear complaints about kids. We figure as parents this is normal, but it may discourage good people from having children.

Worse so, lousy information affects people who could be better parents. On the surface, people who plan to have children are conscientious. As a result, too many negative stories are more likely to dissuade them.

People who don’t consider consequences will have a child regardless of what they hear.

The following are eight ways in which you become more amazing after having kids.

1) You Get Your Priorities Sorted Out

Having children is a significant life change. Children change your life, and where it is heading. With this change, you reevaluate what you are doing with your time. From there, you figure out what is essential and compatible with your lifestyle.

For me, having a child made it clear that I needed to work on my writing. It also helped me realize I needed to give up on my fruitless side-projects and freelance work.

Children take up a considerable amount of time, especially in the beginning. As long as they are awake, they need supervision. That said, it gets easier after a year, at that point children are a little bit more independent.

The thing is, you no longer have time to waste. If you want to get something done, you need to do it while the baby is asleep. You will also notice that the baby wears you out, so you need more sleep.

Parkinson’s law says “any project will fill the time you give it.” In this sense, when you have less time, you squeeze in more work. Your projects will have stricter timelines, and you will need focused attention.

When you have less time, you use it more wisely. You are forced to consider everything you are working on and focus on fewer things.

2) You Learn To Have More Patience

Before having a kid, I was annoyed by crying babies on airplanes. It is still annoying, but now I understand and don’t hold it against the parents,

Someone could be a bad parent, so that is why the baby is crying. But more likely, they are trying their best, and the baby is crying anyways.

There are three reasons why a baby gets upset, either they are sleepy, hungry or hurt. On a plane, it is loud, and the air pressure can hurt ears. A baby may have trouble sleeping, and this will make them grumpy, and more annoying.

The thing is, you tend to understand why something happens better when it has happened to you. At first, you learn to deal with your crying baby, then other crying babies.

In general, these experiences will help you deal with other annoyances in the future.

In time, you are prepared to deal with other grumpy babies. With practice, this translates into a better understanding of all your annoying situations.

3) You Learn To Sing

One day, long ago while my mother was singing to my younger brother, he stopped her and said, “Mommy, sing your best!” She stopped and told him she already was.

When you have kids, you need to learn how to sing. You discover at times that nothing else will work and you need to sing. Your skill level doesn’t matter, but your willingness to sing does.

You will realize you’re glad that someone sang to you as a child. Reason being, you still remember the words to some of the songs you heard back then.

Kid’s songs get repetitive fast. For this reason, I’ve started making up songs. My daughter hasn’t complained yet.

The songs I sing match the tempo of songs she already knows, so I only need to make up the words. I mix observations and rhyme, and these songs can go on for as long as necessary.

Singing is satisfying to your creativity and gives you a chance to interact with your child. Songs also help you deal with stress and anxiety, so it’s a win-win.

4) You Learn To Function On Less Sleep

Not getting enough sleep sucks, but it is something you get better at with a child. In the first few months, babies don’t sleep well. You never know when they will wake up and need something.

At first, it was tough, the exhaustion got to my wife and me, and it was a pretty stressful time for us.

But after awhile, we got better at dealing with it. Now, seeing how busy I am when my daughter is awake, I’ve made a habit of waking up before her.

Waking up at 6 a.m. has made me a morning person, this is something I’ve never been before. That said, I’ve come to realized I could work much better in the morning then at night (as a former night owl).

No one wants to be tired all the time, but you learn to deal with it. It forces you to go to bed earlier, which compensates for the early wake ups.

You will be sleepy, especially in the beginning. But in time, this should motivate better habits. When you can start with sleep training, life will be better for everyone.

5) You Get Out More

My wife and I are both introverts, so most of the time we would rather stay in than go out. In the past, a typical weekend may have involved going for a walk or going out for dinner. Otherwise, it wasn’t uncommon for us to stay in our apartment.

Now that we have our daughter, we get restless if we stay in too long. We usually make plans and try to figure out where we can go to do something.

We often go to visit my parents. They love our daughter and can’t wait to see her when we arrive. A visit gives us a break, and them a chance to see her.

When we go sightseeing, our daughter likes to see things she hasn’t seen before. But, the travelling at this point is more for us. We all get something out of it.

Getting out is also breaking our routine and doing something different. For my wife, especially during maternity leave, it was the only chance to get out of the house.

We go places more than ever before, but this doesn’t mean spending too much money. It’s about getting out, going places and seeing things. While at other times, it gives us a break from our baby.

6) You Learn To Make Friends Again

When my wife was pregnant, we met a few couples who were having babies around the same time.

Talking to them, we had something in common and would soon share a similar experience. My wife was also able to chat with women in the same situation as her, who could even speak her language.

Once you have kids, you spend more of your time with people who are in a similar situation. You are all dealing with kids and doing kid stuff. You may also share daycare or sporting events. These events will give you a chance to make friends with your child’s friend’s parents.

Unfortunately, you don’t have much time for old friends or friends without kids. To see them, you need to leave your spouse home alone with your child in the evening. That isn’t something you can do all the time.

It will be easier to be friends with people who also have kids. You will have more in common, and the same obligations and responsibilities.

7) You Learn To Be More Responsible

This one is noticeable and quite significant. Without a child, you are in complete control of your life, and you can do what you want when you want. You can make bad choices, without any consequences.

But with a kid, you always need to make better choices. Moreover, you need to be sure you are doing what is best for you and your family.

You also need to plan, because you can’t jump in the car and go for a drive. You always need to know what you are doing, and you must bring things for the baby.

Also, when driving, you need to consider the lives you are responsible for as well. You need to be more careful and respectful of the law. Speeding may have been fun in the past, but now it is a hazard.

Without a child, you can do whatever you want, but with one, you need to think twice. You always have to work at being a good parent and making better choices.

Even with work, you will need to make better choices. Reason being, you may want to build a better life that will allow you to be a better parent.

8) You Learn To Be More Positive

Being positive is something most of us are always trying to do. But with a kid, you have to be positive, even if you pretend at times.

Kids can sense how you feel, and feed off of it. If you are unhappy, your child will know, and it will cause them stress. You do not want to stress out your child any more than they are already stressed.

Luckily spending time with children makes you happy and more positive. Babies always smile and laugh when they are having fun. As a parent you will enjoy seeing this, so you will want to be cheerful around your child.

My daughter’s smile and laugh always makes me feel better. If I’ve had a bad day, getting home and seeing her puts me in a better mood.

One last thing that I’ve mentioned before. Having a baby may inspire you to work on your goals. In turn, the satisfaction of working on them will make you more positive about life in general.

You should be positive around your kids. Luckily kids make you more positive.

Having Children Makes You More Amazing

We’ve talked about some of the positive changes having a child could cause. And to be fair, children are a challenge that will change your life.

Having a child is a significant decision. But rather than focusing on the troublesome things, consider these positive points too.

In the end, having a child will make you a better person in many ways. So remember this, it isn’t as bad as some parents will have you believe.

building habits

Trying to Start a New Habit? Consider This.

Setting healthy habits is the key to an amazing life. But sometimes, you break your habits, and things get out of hand. Such a thing happened to me recently.

It all started Monday. I woke up on time and did two hours of work before getting ready for the office. But something was off, I felt hungry, and did not have enough to eat.

After arriving at work, the hunger hadn’t gone away, and I made an impulsive choice to eat an unhealthy snack. I ate a sugary granola bar and soon afterwards, grabbed another.

Later, someone put out some latte mix. I’d already broken my sugar rule, so I tried it. More still, someone put out chocolate bars. Using the same logic, I decided it was alright to eat a few. By the end of the day, I’d had more junk than the whole week before. Guilt or biological causes had me feeling bad.

When I was getting ready for bed, I had none of my usual self-control. In part because I was tired, but more so because I had broken my routines during the day. I decided not to set my alarm.

I didn’t wake up till much later than usual. After that everything was off. I ate more than usual for breakfast, and then I was late to drop off my daughter at daycare. The subway was delayed, and a bus didn’t show up. Finally, by the time I got to work I was over an hour late.

All this could be traced back to my choice on Monday morning. When I ate an unhealthy snack, I let chaos rule over my day. In turn, causing everything to go bad. My problematic days could have been avoided if I’d stuck with my habits.

Starting A New Habit

Starting a new habit is difficult, and usually takes a while to get going. You must first get into the right mindset. Once you get started, you are often disoriented and distracted.

Most often, when you decide you need a new habit, there is a trigger. You may have a bad week or look in the mirror and realize you are getting overweight and need to do something about it.

Other times, new habits come when you realize you want to do something. Changes occur out of a desire to make improvements more likely to happen. The most obvious example is when you set a goal. Usually, to realize that goal you need to repeat something every day.

When you set a goal, you need to plan it out to make it more likely to succeed. You need to be willing to realize what you are doing now and what you need to do to get where you want to go.

Sometimes you even need to consider what will happen if you don’t follow through with your goal. The motivation here comes from knowing everything you will lose if you do not take the action you need to.

When you start working on new goals, you must make a choice. You must choose to work at getting what it is that you want. Choosing requires letting go of the idea that you are the product of genes and upbringing.

The point is that, when working on a goal, you need to understand it is possible in the first place. To do that, you need to think that change is possible. You also need to believe that you can be and do something different from what you have always done. In essence, this is a choice and affirmation of a commitment to something.

It Is Difficult And You Will Resist

When you first decide to make a change, it will be painful. You may think about it or regret what you’ve chosen. You will see temptation at every step.

The first couple of days are the hardest when you put a new habit into place. If you are giving up sweets, you will see them everywhere. If it is smoking, you will see people smoking anywhere you go. Regardless, the temptations will be fierce.

But this is how you gain strength, and you need to see the temptations as a test that you’re motivated to pass. It is always a matter of changing the way you perceive the situation. At first as a temptation, then later avoidance becomes a reward. The more you resist, the higher the prize, the more likely you will not get pulled into the habit again.

At times, you will resist, you may even think that your bad habit wasn’t so bad. You may also start to feel your new practice is a problem. Why did you give up something you love so much? What about this “new” pattern is so much better? You may even wonder, who decided to take up this practice anyway?

In the beginning, is the most useful part in the development of a habit. The reason being, you will start to see the early benefits of the choices you’ve made. You will see the bad in what you used to do without thinking.

When you stop smoking, in the first few days you breathe easier. Your food will taste better, and your health will show signs of improving. But, you may not notice these things if you don’t try to pay attention, so pay attention.

An example of this is when you start a new job, which is a habit. In the beginning, you’ll notice all the things you did differently in your previous positions. In this sense, in the first couple of months, you get an honest impression of things. After that, your perception gets opaque with experience.

When You Accept Change It Gets Easier

Evolving and becoming a better person can be a long process. It is hardest in the beginning, and you need resilience.

But at some point, something will click, and you become sure that you have changed for the better. At the same time, you will accept your new habits as a representation of who you are. At this point, it becomes more natural. And instead of being a choice, it will become second nature and automatic.

You will also feel confident in what you have chosen. You will start to believe you are becoming the person you envisioned. In a sense this will be true, once you commit and accept a new habit, it becomes part of who you are.

When it gets easy, it is simpler to add more habits to the mix. If you make a significant life-affirming change, you will notice other habits come with it. The benefit here is that it will be easier to add them. Reason being, you are changing, so you are willing to accept the possibility of change. With acceptance, you become what you are.

Once you quit smoking, you may realize you also want to eat better. With this new habit, you may want to exercise. Working out will be more comfortable too because you won’t lose your breath so quickly. After a week of this, you will feel better about your body in many ways, and that will encourage you to do more.

New patterns will develop whether you notice it or not. Which is to say, your mind will pick up on better habits once you’ve committed to making one significant change. Your conviction and commitment will be subconsciously translated into better choices. At some point, this will become obvious to you in the rest of your actions. It will no longer be a choice and will be automatic.

At Last You Self-Enforce

The last step in developing a new habit, and the one that was illustrated in the story at the start. Self-enforcing happens when you’ve got things worked out. Usually, it happens after you’ve been working on your new habit for a while.

During the last phase, you start to feel sorry for breaking your habits. Fortunately, it is also when you don’t have to push as hard. But, now the punishment is more severe. You will feel worse about breaking your streak.

Consider this, after getting enough sleep for a few weeks. When you break the cycle, you realize how bad not getting enough sleep is. In the past 4 hours of sleep would have been ok. It might not have even affected you. But after getting into a better habit of getting enough sleep. Missing a night will make you exhausted and useless the next day.

You notice the adverse effects of your old bad habit right away. You will even see how far they extend, while in the past you didn’t notice anything at all.

If you cut out sweets, having a sweet will feel bad. If you exercise every day, not doing it will feel lazy.

Use This Process To Your Advantage

With any significant change, there are three steps. At first, you resist and fight yourself at every step.

Next, you get into the acceptance phase. You come to realize that it is best for you and can see it as a new and better way. At this point, it gets easier to maintain the habit, and with time it becomes second nature. Again, you may even pick up related habits without intention.

Finally, we self-enforce our new habits. We start to feel sorry for breaking our new way, and our bodies react negatively if we fall back to our old ways.

The key is to realize these steps. If you have a sense of where you are, you know what to expect and how to deal with what comes next. You can also use these steps as a measure of your success. That said, they will also help you understand why you feel the way you do.

The best thing you can do is choose a new habit and commit to it. Then the rest is a process, and that can be easier with faith in the process.

This faith will help you establish your new habits. No longer will give up when things get tough. Once you realize what is happening and why it is happening, it is easier to accept and move forward.

Making a new habit is a significant challenge, but it is worth it. You will be happy with the results and how they make you feel. Sometimes you have a second chance when it comes to breaking your habits. Your self-enforcing self will warn you about the effects of breaking your habits.

But remember, this warning shouldn’t be an excuse to break a habit. Instead, it will give you a chance to re-realize your potential bad choices.

Life is a bunch of habits, use them for good and good things will happen.

watch less tv

Want To Save Time, Money and Be Happier? Do this One Thing

Almost everyone has a favourite show they can’t wait to watch. People say we are in a golden age of television. There are so many series that get people hooked and have them waiting for every episode. Equally popular, with new services people can binge watch a series over a weekend.

The rest of my family are all avid TV watchers, and they always have a few shows on the go. Most nights, they know what they are going to do because they have a show or two to watch. If they get busy, they have them recorded, so they have a backlog waiting for them.

Some of the most popular shows have been on for years. The walking dead is in its 8th season. When you think of it, that is a lot of hours spent in front of a TV.

There are so many 24-hour news channels that you could spend days watching. On top of this, many channels have nightly news. Recently, true crime and other ‘news shows’ have grown in popularity.

That said, TV shows and news are entirely different beasts, but they both depend on the same thing. That is, you sitting on the couch and staring at a screen.

For the following reasons, you should consider watching less TV. If that sounds horrible, remember that your life will be better if you watch less.

You’ll Have More Time

TV is a time killer. It eats up a lot of time, so much so that you don’t even realize that you are missing out.

Consider 25 episodes, 1 hour each for eight seasons. That’s over 200 hours or more than eight full days. If you like a show, you will watch the season. Even still, there are other things to watch on TV, like the news. That takes less commitment, but it is on every day.

For a reference on time, we talked about walking dead. That is eight full days. In that time you could have made a decent dent in writing a book or started a part-time business.

The time dedicated to TV isn’t always wasted, but it could be better spent with someone else. In this sense, you are doing something together, when you get a chunk of time. For my wife and I, we sometimes watch shows in the hour between finishing chores and getting ready for bed.

Unfortunately, time spent on TV is gone forever. After a year, you could have accomplished something significant. Most people do not have any ambitions, so this doesn’t matter. But if you have a dream, you will always have something to work on. Meaning, you could still be doing it instead of looking at the TV.

The most significant problem, with watching too much TV is all the time it takes. There is a commitment that comes along with choosing to watch a show. An episode itself isn’t usually too long, but a series and a season are. All the time spent watching TV, could instead be dedicated to something more fruitful.

You’ll Be Happier With Less Bad News

This one isn’t about TV shows, but it is instead about TV news. The news has a noble goal of informing us about what is happening in the world. For the most part, this isn’t what it does. But the focus of many stories is all off. While watching the news, you will see most of it is sad or unfortunate.

There are a lot of things happening in the world, especially the unpleasant. The problem with the news comes down to focus. You always have the choice to focus on the good or the bad; this option is up to you. But when you watch the news, the decision is made for you.

The news focuses on the bad and extreme. It shares with you, all the bad things happening across the globe. This lack of focus on local means the whole world of 7.6 billion + people is a source. So all that negativity gets dumped on you.

More recently, the local news has started to become a thing of the past. As a result, more and more of the press is regional or national, meaning it draws on an infinite source of bad news.

There are these charts, showing how many people need to die in each region of the world for the news to cover it. The numbers vary, but the message is the same, the press focuses on the sensational and extreme.

The problem with too much bad news is that you start to believe that the world is a dangerous place. You begin to accept the stories and think the world is becoming an ugly hellhole.

The fact remains, the world is the safest it has ever been. There are fewer murders, wars and diseases than ever before. But you wouldn’t know that from watching the news.

Cable Costs A lot Of Money

We haven’t ever had cable, so we’ve saved a lot of money over the years. That’s a massive issue with cable and TV; it costs so much.

Let’s do some quick math, say cable costs $80 a month, and you pay 12 times a year, that is $960. Not a small amount of money, after two years you could use that money to go on a trip.

After 30 years or so of spending that much, you will have paid a year’s worth of salary. You may not have cable for that long, but the amount of money mounts up if you think about it.

There are cheaper alternatives, costing $10 a month, but they pile up at a more reasonable rate. The problem with Netflix is that it doesn’t have anything new. As a result, you still need cable to watch all the latest shows.

Most of the people I know who have Netflix, still have cable, so they aren’t saving any extra expense.

Watching TV is Passive

Another problem with TV is that while you watch it, your brain goes into a sort of sleeping state. Because everything is happening in front of you on the screen, you don’t participate. You could say TV is high bandwidth. As a result, you don’t have the resources to think about everything you see, so it all gets absorbed.

For example, anytime I’m at my mom’s house, and we are watching TV, she gets into this state. If a strange or exciting advertisement comes on, I ask her about it. She usually doesn’t remember or says she was thinking about something else. Even if she doesn’t remember, she is still absorbing and consuming.

In general, when watching TV, your mind goes into this TV watching state. You stop thinking about what you are seeing because there is so much. You don’t question it, and it gets stored without being digested.

This information piles up and fills your mind with ideas about things and what to buy. Even ideas you don’t believe gets stuffed in and become hard to forget.

When you read, everything is slower, and at a lower bandwidth. Giving you more time to be critical of what you are consuming. You may not stop to think about what you are reading, but you can if you want.

With books, you’re focused on something specific, making reading more taxing. However, this keeps you learning and forces you to stay attentive. But, this also means you pay more attention when you read a book. This suggests that it is better for your mind than watching TV.

You Will Have Less To Talk About

It isn’t as bad as it sounds, but it does matter, though not in the way it may seem. When you watch a lot of TV, it becomes one of the things that fill your mind. This means, when you talk about what is going on in your life you will often fall back to TV.

In my family, when there are gatherings, there is usually a lot of talk about TV shows and sports. When this happens, I have nothing to say, so I can’t take part in the conversation.

But in my mind, I’m not missing out, the stuff that I ponder is way more interesting to me. Rather than thinking about TV shows, I focus on things that I have read or the projects I’m doing.

These things aren’t so easy to connect with other people on, at least as much as TV. But they are meaningful to the people in my social circle. You may be annoying to the people who spend all their time watching TV, but you will be attractive to more interesting people.

This point may seem silly, but it is true. If you decide not to watch TV, you will have less to talk about to some people. Many people watch a lot of TV, so keep this in mind as you may have to come up with different topics of conversation.

The News Is Fake

There are so many options when it comes to choosing what to give your attention to. There are so many different places to go for news, while some are better than others, but most are ‘fake.’

By fake, I do not mean that it is not true, though it could be. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know most of the time. When I say its fake, I mean that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to you, and it won’t inform you of anything. In other words, it is not newsworthy. So it has no benefit other than getting you to focus on it and watch ads.

Another thing about ‘fake’ news, is that it focuses on the wrong side of reality. If you watched the news during the election, no one said Trump would win, and they were all oblivious to this ‘reality.’ When the results came in, many people were angry, because they didn’t see it coming. In a big part because the news wasn’t telling the truth or had no idea about the facts.

Anything on the news about celebrities is not news, but gossip. The coverage of these kinds of things is the definition of fake. In this sense, the news is information porn about things that are not newsworthy. For most people, this is useless anti-information, that should instead be called entertainment.

For the most part, the news is junk, and if you watch it, you will get what it has to offer, which is nothing.

The Solution To Your Problems

Cutting TV from your life doesn’t need to be an all or nothing choice. You can cut out a lot, cancel cable and only watch a couple of shows online.

When you cut out TV, you will be happier because you have less unfortunate things to occupy your mind. If you are unhappy, there are things in your life you should focus on instead. If you are always watching TV, you’re distracted and may forget about what is going on in your own world.

When you cut out TV, you have more time for other things, like reading books or working towards your goals. These kinds of things are much more satisfying in the long run. If you work towards a goal, you will always be happier down the line. If you usually watch TV, you may forget your problems, but they will come back to haunt you later.

There is also a risk that you will have less to talk about, especially when it comes to TV. But that can be replaced with more exciting conversations or people.

A quick and easy way to make your life better is to cut back on TV. Your brain will thank you for it.

better life

You Want A Better Life? Here’s How to Get Started!

Everyone wants a better life, but few know how to get started. We often think that if we don’t have a passion we can’t make a plan. It is also true that without a plan, a dream is almost impossible to make true.

The best way to get started is to figure out where you are, and where you want to go. To get there you need passion, and more important, you need to know what you are passionate about. Given this daunting task, we shouldn’t see it as a chore. Instead, see it as a labor of being honest about what you already know.

The goal is to get you over the initial hurdle of making your plan. You need an idea, you need a passion. Here are some steps to help you get a sense of who you are and what your passions are.

What Do People Ask you about?

It is hard to figure out what you are good at because you take it for granted. You don’t realize what you are an expert at because it comes so easy. This is where the people around you can help, think about what you’re asked. You’re asked because people think you will know.

Our family members may know about our skills better than we know ourselves. They ask you about what in their mind is the things you are skilled at. In my case, my mother always asks me about her computer. If something isn’t working, I’m the first person she calls. For me, this later translated into me doing work related to computers and technology.

For my mom, she sees me as a computer expert, because in the past I’ve proven that I know what I’m talking about. This is the same for you, people come to you because you have been right in the past. What you know about reflects what you are good at, which reveals what you are passionate about.

What Do You Do?

The things that you do often are a great guide to what you are passionate about. This is related to what people ask you about. You may not realize what you are doing all the time, but other people do. They ask you about the things that they see you doing.

Work-wise, this can be as easy as looking at what you do as a job. You may be the networking person, the social media guru, or a Microsoft expert. These are the areas that you have knowledge about and would be able to teach others.

Look at the fun things you do, if you are into sports statistics or reading books, these are places to start. If you read and suggest books to your friends, you already have a skill. It isn’t complicated, you only need to be aware and focused. It’s possible, that all it would take to pursue your passion is to change your job. Working at a bookstore or working with a publishing company could give you the purpose you seek.

What Do You Talk About?

The things we talk about represent who we are and what we are into. What we talk about is usually a sincere expression of who we are inside. Our words are an expression of what is going on inside our heads, even if we don’t realize it. For this reason, we should take note of what we talk about and see it as a guide to what you are passionate about.

Often during a conversation, I bring up new but relevant topics and ideas. Because of this, teaching is something I’m good at. You may talk about sports, TV or movies. These are the things you know about, here you will find interest and skills. You don’t need to be an expert, you only need to know more than other people, and that is what will make you an expert.

So What Is Your Passion?

If you’ve considered these three suggestions, you have a list of possible passions. When something is on all three lists, you might already be there. If something feels special or stands out, that could be it.

When you focus on the question of what your passion is, you will never find it. The thing is that we often already know what our passions are. The problem is that we are afraid to admit it or have excuses about why we can’t do it. Rather than searching, stop and think about what you already know. Now, instead of looking you should accept it and move forward on making it a reality.

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