A Gentle Hug — 7 Takeaways No. 90

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1. “The Sad Gap”

Are You Stuck in The Sad Gap – vlogbrothers – (YouTube)

So the sad gap is the place where you mix together outrage and hopelessness and that is always a place that is going to be filled with anxiety and depression and panic

Social media and news reporting (since it has to either target or compete with social media) focus on extremes to get our attention. As a result, they feed this concept of the “sad gap”. We’re told some horrible something, and we’re led to believe that fixing said horrible something is probably impossible. In between is the sad gap.

Simply acknowledging that the gap exists, and that those ideas on either end are likely to be overstated, attention-grabbing clickbait, is the first defense. Setting it aside, or alternately digging deeper for the more rational truth, is the second.

Do this: Mind the gap.

2. “‘Minimum effective dose’ of mindfulness”

An ancient technique can improve your attention span – Kevin Dickinson – (Big Think)

Mindfulness seems the buzzword for the 2020’s, but not without reason. As we fight all the entities vying for our attention, we struggle. The result of that struggle is our ever-shortening attention span.

Technology companies, news media, and political players now recognize attention as the resource it is and, in some ways, regard it as more valuable than money.

We can fight back. And it begins with a simple, daily practice.

Do this: Meditate. (TL;DR: for 12 minutes. Smile)

3. “Avatars of our refined selves”

Envy Is the Cancer of the Soul – Lawrence Yeo – (More to That)

The essay is clearly about envy, and a worthy read for that alone. But the thought that got my attention was this, discussing the impact of social media on it all:

People can take time crafting what they want to say, which means that they are editing themselves before any conversation has begun. And whenever someone is given the capacity to edit, they are given the opportunity to pick and choose how they want to present themselves.

This leads to everyone showing the polished versions of their lives, or what I call the avatars of their refined selves.

That concept of an avatar just clicks for me. We’re not presenting our true selves online, but rather a crafted avatar.

Do this: examine your avatar.

4. “Something is happening to me.”

You’re Not Addicted to Technology. Here’s What’s Happening Instead. – Jason Feifer & Nir Eyal – (Nir and Far blog)

Our reaction is to call it addiction, when it’s not really. Overused? Perhaps. Perhaps even likely. But not truly an addiction.

Instead, it’s a lack of one or more of three important needs — competency, autonomy, and relatedness — that can lead us to finding them in our distractions, and thereby spending more time that perhaps we might like to in those distractions.

The alternative? Taking control.

Things do not just happen to us. There is always something that we can control. We will experience change, but we can also be the instigator of change.

We can be the thing that happens.

Do this: Watch for distractions.

5. “Accent hallucination”

EP891 Accent Hallucination. False Ranges. – Grammar Girl – (Podcast)

This one grabbed my attention because it was so unexpected.

This is a situation where a native speaker is heard as having a foreign accent when they actually don’t.

The test was fascinating. Students listened to a recording of a non-accented lecture. They were shown a purported picture of the speaker: half saw an Asian woman, the other half a Caucasian woman. Those shown the former reported the speaker as having a stronger accent than those shown the later — even though the audio was identical. Further studies also showed that cognition — the ability to absorb and understand material presented — was impacted by expectation of an accent, regardless of whether that accent was even present, or the mismatch between expectation and observed reality.

Our biases run deeper than we imagine.

Do this: Be aware of your biases.

6. “The sweet spot for longevity”

The Secrets to Successful Aging in 2022 – The New York Times

This list from earlier this year summarizes some common sense that we all too often forget in the hustle of our day-to-day.

… research has revealed lifestyle factors that contribute to resilience such as obtaining a high level of quality education; holding occupations that deal with complex facts and data; consuming a Mediterranean-style diet; engaging in leisure activities; socializing with other people; and exercising regularly …

The NYT article includes a list of six items, each linking to a more detailed article.

Do this: Plan ahead.

7. “Comforts suck the lifeblood out of us.”

How Hard Questions Force Important Answers: “WHY” Forces Us To Look Inside – Julia Hubbel – (Walkabout Saga blog)

Kevin, in his inimitable way, asked me at what point I gave up experiences for staying home.

Hubbel calls herself, among other things, an adventure traveller. As I write this, she’s in Thailand, where she just shared a video with her patrons of her massaging a Bengal Tiger at least five times her size, probably more. Her personal story of recent months as been a fascinating one to watch. She’s battling a few injuries while simultaneously downsizing, selling her house, and moving to … a location yet to be determined. Oh, and she’s on the verge of 70. While we might not make the same choices, she’s an inspiration to many of us as we age.

Her reflections on being asked hard questions, like the quote, are a fascinating study in self-awareness.

Do this: answer the hard questions, even if only to yourself.

8. “You’re doomed. It’s that simple.”

On Change – Leo A. Notenboom – (Personal Blog)

This week’s selection from my 65 Thoughts project is on one of my favorite topics: change.

Embracing change is one of the single most impactful things you can do to improve your satisfaction in life. I’ve written about it before.

The embrace doesn’t have to be as tight as my own. Perhaps a loose hug will do. If it helps, consider it “accepting” of change, rather than actively embracing it.

Though I believe the stronger the embrace, the happier you’ll be.

Consider the alternative: actively resisting change.

You’re doomed. It’s that simple. You’ll be miserable.

Change happens whether or not you like it. Everything changes.

Do this: embrace change. Or at least give it a gentle hug.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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