Monday, April 06, 2015

We live in paradox, and isolation.
Alone at our computers, in front of our TVs
We browse, we listen, we see.
We get the message `dark emotions are a sign that something's wrong'
But we feel them. We think: what can I do to make them go away right now!?
And, in it's many forms, the answer is generally to consume something.
An experience, a coffee, a workshop, a trip, ..
And we play our part in the economy.

But the truth that we don't want to face is not that bad.
We are just at sea, not on land.
A sea of the mind, and the waves are emotions.
All they can do is pass through you like water.
The water passes, the peace underneath stays.
Face it, your home for the next million years is the sea..
Just be the ocean.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Avoiding the will-power trap

Real-life example before the theory:
I want to use the stairs more often going to my office instead of the elevator.
Right now, I don't feel like walking up from floor 1 to 7.
I don't want to force myself,
and ask myself `what part of that do I feel like doing?'
I realize it's walking just up to floor 2.
I do that, and take the elevator from there.

There is no isolated event,
and with every action we take,
we are reinforcing certain behaviors and habits.

How to reinforce a desired behavior?
Perform that behavior, or one similar to it,
while feeling a positive emotion.

What if you don't feel like doing it?
You have two options.
Not do it, or do it while using substantial will power..
well the second option is many times only hypothetical,
as you might not have the sufficient will power at that given moment for
that action.
The second option, in addition to not always (perhaps even usually) not existing,
 may not be good for reinforcement of a habit,
as performing an action using will power may evoke negative emotions
that will be associated with the behavior.

My suggestion:
Perform the largest part of the action that you are able
at that moment, without passing your `will power threshold'.
The threshold is the point beyond which negative emotions of stress are generated while doing the action.
Again, this threshold is not a constant, and changes from moment to moment.

This way you perform an action you wish to reinforce, while feeling positive emotions.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Stop checking your f***ing phone!!!

I hope I'm not the only one who checks his phone every 5 minutes and gets
disappointed every time there's not something extremely interesting on it.
I'm trying to treat this `tiny steps' style..
and taking into account `you can't improve what you don't measure'

Like when I sit with a piece of paper working on something, I'll write the times
when I checked my phone : 14:56, 15:01
If I see there was a 5 minute gap I say -let's try to make the next one at least 6 minutes.
say it came out
now again I say, let's make the next gap at least 10 minutes..
A simple way to bring awareness to what you are actually doing in your actual life.

Monday, February 23, 2015

They met briefly,
and a spark exploded.
He wished to share every moment with her.
But darkness fell, and he was alone.
He cried, laughed, learned new things,
had adventures, disappointments,
wasted time in front of his TV..
He said to himself .. `well this is life'
.. `this is as good as it gets'
One day the curtains were lifted,
and the sun shone in,
 he discovered her still there in the same room
he spent all his life in.
She cried when he cried, laughed when he laughed,
they in fact did share every moment.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wake up, your life has already started

Ohh.. you didn't hear the gun go off?
Well.. there's no option to restart, sorry.

Ohh.. you say you won't participate in the race
cause that's not fair and you don't have a chance to win?

Well.. that's your choice.. but just so you know, when
this life ends , another race starts and you will start at
at whatever position you finished this one.

If you start running now you could finish in place 1.5 billion out
of 7 billion.
If you keep sitting here or walking at the same pace you'll finish at place roughly
2.5 billion.

Ohh you're saying everybody should start at the same place each time?

Yeah.. well those are the rules. They call it Karma.

You don't like the rules? You demand to speak to whoever's in charge?

Well, you can only speak to him if you get first place in a race.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Across the distance of a thousand miles,
she whispered through the wind:
Let me experience love as magnificent as I know it can be.
Don't expect it to be safe and reassuring every moment,
or even once a year.
Trust that when you float in the middle of an ocean,
you will not drown.
Trust that if you do drown,
death will only take you to a place
where this love is stronger.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Tiny habits

I was having a day where I was zoning out infront of my computer,
watching various shows and movies.
During these days I typically think, well it doesn't seem realistic
that I would stop watching videos for an hour and do something productive,
so no sense in trying.
Inspired by how BJ Fogg talks about tiny habits,
I thought.. well what can I do that would be positive and fun?

I tried to follow Fogg's formula of trigger->desired-action->reward.

I decided, each time I come back to the couch after getting something to eat (trigger),
I'll pause the video for 5 seconds and do a mini-breath awareness meditation(desired action), and then say to myself `I'm awesome!' (reward)

Then I thought , well maybe each time I have the thought that I should stop watching this stuff
I'll do this 5 seconds pause and say `I'm awesome'.

I think I ended up doing 9-10 of these 5 seconds pauses during that evening.
I still wasted most of it.

I do think though that my mood the morning after was better than average after these zoning out days,
and I think it had to do with these 5 second mindfulness breaks

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

This company, that I saw as a sponsored link, is the wrong and terrible direction undergrad science and engineering education is going in.
It all sounds so nice - give the students a chance to get exactly the information they need so they won't be stuck on `nuances' and be able to get the core of the teaching.
But the CEO's story contradicts her message.
She was stuck on compiler nuances for hours as an undergrad cause she was shy and did not have a good platform to ask..
and where did that bring her?
Being homeless on the streets? hm..
not exactly.. she went on to do a Computer Science MsC, and work as an engineer at facebook and Oracle, and now she has her own software company.
Would the same have happened if she had not hacked her brain till 6am each day on silly compiler syntax bugs?
My conjecture is that any CS undergrad today, who will spend 10 hours a week trying to solve his problems with no facebook forums, or whatsapp groups will have a huge advantage over his/her peers

The human brain always chooses the least resistance\least effort path..
Like even saints download movies illegally these days,
practically noone is spending hours trying to solve math exercises by themselves
with a f***ng piece of paper.. and while shutting off their f***ng computer.
They are developing other skills, but fewer and fewer people are developing the depth of though that comes from spending 10 hours on trying to solve a math problem you don't have the first idea how to approach (and perhaps is even unsolvable cause your professor made a mistake in writing the question)

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The shittiness of life

I'm kind of repeating myself,
but at moments I find this remarkable.
People use the claim that `Life is equally shitty no matter what you do'
as an excuse for their depression and laziness.
(These people include me once or twice a week)

But the remarkable thing is that it seems the shittiness of life, during a particular day,
is in direct almost linear correlation to what the positive and negative things you do
during that day  (well.. almost linear with a big multiplicative constant depending on previous karma from previous days and years and lives)

In a tangible sense,
if you spend 2 hours on facebook and youtube  before leaving the house.
You're day will be 10% more shitty,
than if you'd had spent 1 hour and 48 minutes doing that stuff,
6 minutes stretching and doing pushups, and 6 minutes writing a nice email to someone who
was waiting to hear from you.

The reduction in shittiness in the case you spent those whole two hours before leaving your house,
doing things like meditating, exercising, communicating with people (in a mindful way),
studying something new, installing your new shower head. (or at least wrecking your wall while trying)..
is almost enough to make someone optimistic about life..

of course, there are complications.. cause if you spent a whole 2 hours outside of the regular `hypnotized zombie' mode, in addition to the good feelings, uncomfortable repressed feelings from the past would start to arise.
In general this is also good, cause there's a chance there to process and dissolve them..
but yeah when going a little deeper it's no longer a smooth ride.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A fresh new morning it was.. supposedly..
but seeing an image of those red roof tops,
he knew that even after traveling around the world ,
his heart would always be in those old streets and gray skies
and squeaky wooden doors.

He thought of a television reporter coming to him,
after all these wars and problems were over,
when old loves were finally reunited, asking him:

`Was it worth waiting 20 years for?'

and he would answer

No. Waiting is like smoking or eating junk food . It's always bad.
I tried my best not to do any waiting.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The only way to cope with life being disappointing for
long periods in a row is to develop the ability to tangibly feel how
observing the disappointment is burning the negative karma.

You want something, some recognition, some attention from someone.
Every moment you think - maybe it will come now..or maybe now..
but it doesn't come..
every moment you are disappointed..every moment you feel the opportunity to
observe that negative emotion, and let it dissolve another small chunk of your ego,
let it take you back to earlier emotions and experiences from childhood and previous lives.

Let every disappointment ground you a bit more in the peace and joy that is unconditional.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The illusion, and the secret

In the movie `The Secret', they like to talk about a secret kept from the `common people' to prevent them from being successful.
I think the big misconception or illusion in our society is:

Some moments are more important than others.

This is actually taken to the extreme of:

99.999% of moments are insignificant, and once or twice in your lifetime you will have moments that shape your life.

A nice example of this extreme, is in the back to the future movies, where a few key events -  like whether Marty's father stands up to Biff, completely change the future,
the future dynamics and relationships of the people involved, their type of career and success in that career.

This kind of thinking leads to laziness and desperation which are two sides of the same coin in this case.

- laziness cause you think It doesn't matter what I do most of the time, except in those moments where I meet the girl of my dreams, or have some other special opportunity, so I might as well just sit in front of youtube at best, some sick site about sex between cats and goats at worst (of course my real perversions have nothing to do with cats and goats, otherwise I would not feel comfortable writing that.. I'm sure in a year or two everybody will have the app to see what porn sites their facebook friends use.)

-desperation/apathy cause you think - OK I either missed my chance, or luck wasn't on my side, in that significant moment, so all is lost..

but it seems the reality is completely different..
your emotional state during a day, and the kind of good events that happen to you during that day,
are in perfect correlation, up to a very high resolution, with the negative and positive actions you have taken.

This is why I choose a few negative and positive behaviors, that I have singled out as having a large impact on my mood, the quality my consciousness, my body,
and use a spreadsheet to track daily how much I am avoiding the negative ones, and applying the positive ones.

I call this spreadsheet `1500 days'. Cause I opened it when there were about 1500 days till I reach 40.
I thought of it as someone giving me a budget of 1500$ and saying let's check back in 5 years to see what you've done with it.
I don't know .. sometimes it's annoying to think about it like this, but sometimes it's fun.
Like being on a budget makes you appreciate everything more.
It reminds me of a time I just got to Canada and got my wallet stolen.
I loned some money from my university host for the weekend, till I get my new ATM card on Monday.

I remember the day before getting the card. Having a fixed amount of money for food,
the burrito I bought for lunch tasting so much better.

An important thing is that it doesn't have to be all or nothing.

For example, I had a period where I was able to avoid the 2 negative biggies I have identified - jerking off and watching TV\youtube, pretty much consecutively for a year.
I haven't been able to do that for a while..
but I say.. OK can I have a 24 hours streak avoiding these things?

I can? I've done that 4 times in a row?
Now can I do 36 hours?.. 48 hours?

It's important to congratulate yourself on these small accomplishments.
Saying `Yes!' inside or outloud.

I go play basketball, and go bouldering once a week now.

I am by far the worst climber, and player out of all the friends I go with.

They are climbing the level 3 or level 4 walls.
I'm usually succeeding a level 1 or level 2 wall up to the top , once or twice
after two hours of being there.
And when I get down I say Yes! like I've just climbed the Everest,
That way I am motivated to progress, rather than freezing myself up in self-criticism.

I compare myself only to myself. I practice compassion and sympathetic joy towards myself, so it will manifest also towards others.

I know my whole motoric development as a small child was way below average, so no sense comparing myself to someone else..

Let me end with an example of the other extreme than the back to the future example.
I've been wasting time almost all day today, and looks like I will continue to do say till 2am.
But just right now, coming back from getting something to eat, and before sitting down for another episode of `the office', I did 2 push ups.

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Hi! I am a computer science postdoc. For some reason google is not finding my new homepage so I added a link from this profile