Why You Crave

It’s interesting how your body talks to you.

A friend of mine just came back from a alcohol-fuelled weekend at Lake District.

And ever since he got back, he’s been talking about how he’s been craving some chocolate.

“But not fake chocolate, I mean like real, real dark chocolate. Do you have some?”

I found this interesting because:

  • Alcohol flushes out magnesium from your body,
  • Dark chocolate has a lot of magnesium.

On a very subconscious level, his magnesium-deprived body craved cocoa/chocolate because it had exactly what his body was looking for.

Without that explicit, rational knowledge he unwittingly reached for chocolate and felt immediately better once having eaten it.

He also enjoyed it more than usual.

It’s amazing how your body can crave certain nutrients and tell you to unconsciously look for foods that are rich in the nutrients it craves.

P.S. Thanks for reading and feel free to subscribe to my email list.

 

Advertisements

How to Get Over Your Fear of Flying

I had one bad experience.

For me, flying had become a very stressful experience after that one time.

We had a lot of turbulence to the point where even the flight attendant was telling us through what I’ll call the plane phone to remain calm, but she said this in a super panicky and shaky voice that it convinced no one.

The plane was so cold I thought I was on the verge of frostbite in that flying fridge, it was a really bad flight, I could easily complain some more but that’s not the point.

Coming to terms with the idea of dying on every flight and being okay with it shouldn’t be in a passenger’s standard cognitive repertoire.

Worrying about how my family will cope after the plane crashes or ruminating about how I will be remembered on this Earth once I’ve departed prematurely isn’t adaptive at all.

The goods new is though – I got over it. I got over my fear of flying.

Maybe it’ll help you, too.

In this post, we’ll look at some really good tips that helped me get over my fear of flying.

Things that helped me overcome my fear of flying

1. Learn some facts about aerotravel

It’s easy to think that you are a little chemical spec in a metal tube and the only thing below the floor you or separating you is a big drop.

But if you take the time to read about flying and learn how aviation works, you’ll realise that flying by plane is safest form of transport.

Turbulence will always occur in aviation, no matter what. It is as natural as experiencing bumps on the road while travelling by car. There’s nothing to be alarmed about.

It’s just the media that fuel our fear of flying by overemphasising very rare plane crashes. Because of the media, we overestimate the risks of plane crashes.

It’s also a fundamental psychological bias to overestimate the probability of unlikely events occurring.

2. Eat well before the flight

Worst thing to do is board a plane hungry.

When you’re hungry your prefrontal cortex (PFC; reasoning mind) isn’t functioning well due to low blood glucose.

In other words, if you are hungry, parts of your brain don’t perform up to scratch because it has no fuel to do so.

Hunger also affects your willpower as the PFC is responsible for that and you need willpower to retain composure.

Not only does hunger subdue your reasoning part of the brain but low sugar leads to an accentuation of the impulsive mind which will make your fear spiral out of control.

3. Practice some visualisation

Visualise that everything is going to be okay. The plane will land softly on the tarmac, your parents or whoever will pick you up, and will take you home so you can have a nice warm shower and will later cook you a nutritious, home cooked meal.

Be a specific as you can.

4. Reinterpret the situation to your benefit

Cognitive reappraisal is basically reinterpreting events for your benefit.

Something that really helped me was reinterpreting the plane ride as a car or train ride, or a limo ride and that the driver is just casually dropping me off somewhere.

Thinking of the plane ride as a train ride where I’m just travelling on stable train tracks which go up and down and are slightly bent to explain the turbulences made flights more bearable.

5. Deprive yourself of sleep the night before

Do that so that if you manage to fall asleep, you’ll hopefully sleep through the whole flight.

6. Get drunk

It works every time but there’s something strange about drinking on a morning flight… I’d drink as an absolutely last resort so that I relied more on adaptive coping mechanisms (like all of the above, for better or worse) rather than rely on a substance.

 

7. Keep flying – better yet, fly more

There’s a very effective treatment for anxiety called Exposure Response Prevention Therapy (ERP).

Basically, the treatment revolves around you exposing yourself to the thing that makes you anxious (e.g. flying by plane) and making sure you don’t do things that would easily help you in reducing that anxiety (e.g. like drinking alcohol on a plane flight.)

The idea is to increase your anxiety to uncomfortable levels only for you to realise that nothing bad actually happens during this anxiety so there’s no point of experiencing it. 

Over time, increasing your anxiety threshold without any adverse consequences will desensitise you to this fear.

 With every next flight, your fear gets smaller and smaller.

In my case, I didn’t want fear to dictate my life and force me to miss out on the many adventures ahead of me. So I decided to travel to various places in Europe, flying each time. 

I even travelled for 12 hours straight from London to Hong Kong – this was a huge challenge which helped me overcome my fear. After all, if I can travel by plane for 12 hours, what’s a piddly 2- or 3 hour flight for me?

On the way back to London to Hong Kong I thought to myself – I did it once, I can do it again.

I’m so comfortable flying now that I even managed to write and finish this post on a plane flight.

Closing Thoughts

As humans we overestimate risk.

We have the special ability to be able to make future projections (i.e. imagine the future) in hypothetical, fictional scenarios to deduce probabilities of bad things happening.

For example, we’ll imagine the probability of getting hit by a car when thinking of crossing a red light. We’ll often overestimate the risk of getting run over which will result in just waiting at the zebra crossing.

Overstimating risk is good because it makes us vigilant and cautious. But this stems from fear.

Fear is the one of the most powerful emotions which we possess.

It is a powerful motivator that is designed to protect us and keep us alive.

Fear is knowing that breaking into your neighbours home in the middle of the night could result in arrest and fear is knowing that acting on your impulse to punch a stranger in the face could result in potentially serious injury.

In order to avoid those scenarios, fear works in your favour and is a life-preserving rational impulse. Again, it exists to keep you alive and for this reason it is an adaptive emotion.

But fear can also be an irrational emotion and can sometimes rule our lives in a way that isn’t healthy and can manifest in maladaptive ways like anxiety disorders and chronic stress.

It’s important to be aware that overestimating risk and experiencing fear are actually good things.

Above all else though, be aware that you as a human also tend to underestimate your ability to adapt and that you’ll be able to conquer your fear with a little bit of effort.

P.S. Thanks for reading and feel free to subscribe to my email list.

How You Played “The Sims” Says A Lot About You

Remember playing “The Sims”?

What a game that was.

You got to build your very own characters and live their lives etc.

It was an insanely popular game and as a kid I’d talk about it with friends who also played it.

Years later, I still keep in touch with these friends and made an interesting observation about them.

The way they played “The Sims” says a lot about who they are today.

And this kind of makes sense. After all, by creating Sims you’re projecting your own life on to these characters.

I’ll talk about my two close friends Jane and John who played the game a certain way and how their style gave a lot of signs about their interests and future occupations.

Jane the Architect

How Jane would play “The Sims” always amused me.

The moment she started playing she’d put in cheat codes to get as much money as she wanted so that she could put it to good use to built the most aesthetically pleasing house possible.

She’d be very detailed in how she designed the house and had a knack for designing a chic interior.

Jane would love to build these houses.

And once she’d finish her house – she was done.

She didn’t care about being the puppeteer to her own Sim-minions. She didn’t want to play the actual game.

“The Sims”, for her, was just about building houses. That was it.

As a young teenager, this is how she’d play the game.

Many years later, she enrolled at university as a student in Architecture and finished her degree three years after that.

John the Psychologist

John, on the other hand, didn’t really care about houses.

In fact, he wanted to start with as little as possible, so that he could work his way up and build the house of his dreams.

His very first house in “The Sims” was basically a square which had only the most essential things – a fridge, a few beds, a shower, and a toilet (there wasn’t enough room for the toilet to go inside so it was placed outside, against a single wall).

The interesting thing about John was that he’d choose to play with as many “Sims” as possible (I think at the time you could have a max. of 6 people in your family).

Not only did he love building relationships within the family, but also enjoyed building relationships with other Sims.

He was always fascinated about the dynamics and interactions between these people.

But also, he enjoyed the ‘rags to riches’ journey and investing in oneself to maximize their potential in all areas of life – social life, career, love, you name it.

And once he reached the top, he simply stopped playing altogether.

Years later, things clicked for me about John.

In real life, John was always social and built strong meaningful relationships with many people over the years that I’ve known him for.

Always caring and a great listener, he was always considerate of other people and I can imagine this was why he was so liked and popular with many.

Though he had many friends, a lot of these friends were very different from each other and hailed from different walks of life. He managed to get along with a wide range of people.

John actually went on to study Psychology at university which is quite curious when we piece all of these things together.

Is “The Sims” a sophisticated personality test?

Growing up as a teenager, you don’t know who you are or who you want to become.

It’s natural to feel a bit lost as a teenager because you’re just trying to figure things out.

It’s funny how some of those answers for Jane and John were hidden in the way they played “The Sims.”

After all, the Sims is a proto-life.

A projection of your current values and life as you know it onto these proto-characters.

So maybe The Sims is one big personality test.

By playing The Sims you will learn interesting things about yourself that you’ll only be able to make sense of in hindsight. 

Only over time have I managed to meaningfully connect these dots about some of my closest friends. And this makes sense, especially when we consider Steve Jobs’ words:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
– Steve Jobs

P.S. Thanks for reading and feel free to subscribe to my email list.

Review: “The Art of Work” by Jeff Goins

In this review I will basically talk about the most interesting things in the book and add my own thoughts and analysis.

“The Art of Work”

This book tackles the topic of finding our true calling. That is, finding out what we were put on this Earth to do.

Jeff mentions that everybody has their own unique strengths and it is up to us to figure out how we can use these strengths to add value to society and the world at large.

However, a significant portion if not most of the book talks about how to figure out what we were meant to do in the first place as many people may feel lost and directionless.

Here are the four main themes in this book to find out what your calling is.

1. Choose to act

By choosing to act, you immediately do three things.

One, you expose yourself to experience. This way, you try different things and figure out what you like and what you dislike, what’s for you and what’s not for you.

With action comes clarity.

“Practice can teach you what you are and are not meant to do.” – Jeff Goins, The Art of Work

This ties in with what Thomas Jefferson once said:

“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”

Two – by proactively choosing to act and figuring how you want to contribute to this world, you’re not leaving your destiny up to circumstance.

“But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.” – Hunter S. Thompson

And finally three – by choosing to act, you expose yourself to possibility and opportunity.

“And if you are paying attention, you will recognise them [opportunities] for what they  are – chances to hear the call.” – Jeff Goins, The Art of Work

But Jeff also touches upon in his book how people tend to dissociate from others who they deem special to justify their own inertia. As Jeff puts it:

“We’d rather believe the fairy tale that says some people are just special. That way, we don’t have a responsibility to act.”

This is a terrifying, debilitating psychological trap to fall into.

I touch upon this trap myself in an earlier post of mine called “Extraordinary Person” which I had written way before I had read Jeff’s book. I talk about how deeming over over-achievers as “special” or “extraordinary” is a convenient dissociative psychological mechanism that makes us feel better about our inertia and lack of progress.

It’s easy to perform such mental gymnastics and the worst thing about thinking this way is that you rob yourself of the opportunity to become this extraordinary person yourself.

It’s comfortable to dissociate yourself in this way in this way. But comfort isn’t necessarily a good thing. Here’s Jeff:

“In an era where we prize comfort above nearly every other virtue, we have overlooked an important truth: comfort never leads to excellence.”

Watch out, for your own sake.

 

2. Look at the commonalities in your life

Whatever the experience we’re going through and whatever skills we’re acquiring, there will be overarching commonalities that should be treated as clues as to what work we were born to do.

Jeff says that “previous experience is conspiring to lead you in the direction of your life’s work” and for this reason “you must listen for clues along the way, discovering what your life can tell you.”

As a result, certain commonalities in our lives will emerge.

“Take time to look back at all you’ve experienced, and listen to what your life is saying. (…) A calling is what you have when you look back at your life and make sense of what it’s been trying to teach you all along.”

– Jeff Goins, The Art of Work

You already have the answer to your problem. It’s deeply embedded in the unconscious part of your mind.

Elements of your deepest desires bleed into your everyday routine. They manifest themselves in your everyday of your life.

Maybe you enjoy writing? Or you have a penchant for communicating with others? Perhaps you are drawn to the thrill of public speaking?

You will naturally put yourself in the position to take advantage of these skills and use them on a daily basis. You will do it because you love doing it.

Look for the commonalities in your days. These are the clues your subconscious is giving you.

“Look at the major events of your life and write them down. Note everything significant you can remember, even the things that seem silly or irrelevant but come to mind for some reason. Don’t try to decode the meaning; just put down everything you can think of. As you reach the end of the list, look for a common thread, some recurring theme. (…) you will begin to see a theme, a surprisingly obvious thread that ties it all together.”

– Jeff Goins, The Art of Work

But if we manage to miss the subtle calls of what it is that we were meant to do – we can always look back on the commonalities and connect the dots in retrospect.

Interestingly, this is very similar to what Steve Jobs mentioned:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

3. Anything learnt or experienced will not be wasted

As you go through life, you go through different phases which offer their own unique types of experiences.

Going through these experiences, you gear up with new skills and acquire wisdom along the way.

With every opportunity, you gain knowledge and experience – each from a different source – all of which you will be able to use later in life.

Though perhaps at the time of building up these skills they don’t inspire much confidence as to what their use may be, they will somehow come in handy at some point down the line.

As long as you keep putting yourself out there, collecting experiences and building skills – if it hasn’t already, at one point it will all just click for you.

In short – anything learnt or experienced will not be wasted.

4. Painful practice

Lastly, a great way to determine your direction in life and what your “calling” might be is to observe what the activities that you can experience through painful practice.

“Pain is instructive to the person willing to learn.” – Jeff Goins

That is, if you can do something when it’s not fun, when you’re exhausted and maybe even bored, but no matter how painful the practice, somehow you still press on, forever motivated, forever curious regardless, that is a strong signal.

Picasso experienced painful practice with painting and through the highs and the lows, he’d paint relentlessly, whatever the cost. Picasso was simply passionate about painting:

“If they took away my paints I’d use pastels. If they took away my pastels I’d use crayons. If they took away my crayons I’d use pencils. If they stripped me naked and threw me in prison I’d spit on my finger and paint on the walls.” – Picasso

Closing thoughts

I will leave you with this final quote:

“Feelings are signposts to be trusted in your journey to your purpose. (…) Fear, indecision, not knowing – these are the obstacles that keep you from moving forward. And they never go away. But if you are going to find what you were meant to do, you will have to act anyway.” –  Jeff Goins.

P.S. Thanks for reading and feel free to subscribe to my email list.