Is it always good to be nice?

“Be nice!” – that’s something a kid hears a lot. Since early on we are expected to be nice to others, meaning at least: be friendly, share and help the ones in need. “She is a nice person!” – that is supposed to be a compliment. “That’s so nice of you!” – is meant as a sincere “thank you”. However, what is “nice”? Moreover, is it always good to be nice? Let’s discuss.

I actually got to thinking about this subject after I came across an article mentioning ruinous empathy. Ruinous empathy? – I thought – how can that be? For me, empathy is an essential and positive skill. How can it be ruinous? What does it mean? So I did a quick Google search and discovered that such thing indeed exists, yet in fact has little to do with actual empathy. We talk about it in a situations when a person is not saying what needs to be said, because he or she is desperately trying to be nice in order to protect someone else’s feelings. Let me give you a very simple (even simplistic) example to demonstrate ruinous empathy:

Continue reading Is it always good to be nice?

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Pre-defined horizons

A couple of days ago I was using my husband’s iPad to show cartoons to our kids on YouTube. Now when he goes on YouTube he is bombarded with new episodes of “Fixies” and “Octonauts”. Yesterday I accidentally clicked on an ad for some sort of a desk decor and today this desk decor is “attacking” me from every ad space there is. Targeting in action. I got it. Seems to be based on my interests, right? But is it? Doesn’t it look like someone makes an assumption about my interests and defines a “frame” for me to fit in? Can I still choose “yellow”, if someone tries to direct (read: limit) my choice to “red or blue”?

Continue reading Pre-defined horizons

Reflections on a cultural code

Last week I made an unexpected observation on cultural differences. As you know the 8th of March was International Women’s Day and as you might know in Eastern Europe and especially post-Soviet countries this day is celebrated with gifts and flowers. A friend of mine, mother of two sons, on that day had to buy flowers for all the girls of their class. This made me wonder how do you go about traditions which in your perception seem senseless, but if you don’t follow them, you risk becoming an outcast? You see that friend of mine also didn’t get the point of the “exercise”, yet if she wouldn’t have bought those flowers, that would make her sons look bad.

Social pressure. Should you succumb to it if it is about traditions?

But what if the tradition is essentially wrong, ‘cos, hey, flowers are not the point of this day? These are thought-provoking questions as such. However, when I went on to investigate “public opinion” on this matter I was struck with the cultural differences it highlighted. Continue reading Reflections on a cultural code

From behind the mask

Have you noticed that even those people who are shy and reserved in real life, who tend to abstain from engaging in a debate, happen to actively voice their opinions on the web?

How many “anonymous” comments have you seen recently? Were they harsh, judgemental and maybe even cruel? Probably. At least much more so compared to the ones voiced out loud, in real life.

Allow me to give you some food for thought: Continue reading From behind the mask

5 winners of 2017: most read posts of the year

The end of the year is a traditional time for some reviews and conclusions. Although it is actually always a good moment to revise and draw conclusions… Just that on other occasions there seem to be more excuses not to – LOL. Anyways, let me follow the trend and give you my top 5 articles of the year – the ones read close to 2K times and which triggered some truly interesting conversations with my readers (whom I am sincerely grateful for, as I always love exchanging opinions!).

Et voila! Here are the “winners”:

  1. The most read article of the year on the blog is “How to boil a frog?” — a story of how I managed to persuade my mother to allow me to buy a car despite her categorical “no” (and how to get those “mission impossible” type of outcomes in general)
  2. The “silver” medal goes to the article, which talks about the dangers of goals, or more precisely “Why achieving goals could screw up your life?
  3. Two completely opposite reasons of our procrastination with introducing change in our lives is discussed in the third most read of 2017 — “Why are we so afraid to try?
  4. To read about some of my sweet African memories and how elephants made me understand how much more enriching a life can be if you never lose excitement and never cease to be grateful — have a look at “The elephant effect“.
  5. And finally — the article published in 2016 which remains to be one of the most read also this year is “Getting to know yourself” — a collection of links to free online resources for psychological tests, which I believe are truly good to know, especially if you are interested in self-development and in self-awareness in general.

Continue reading 5 winners of 2017: most read posts of the year

How can a parent master time, continue self-growth and follow her true dreams

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