One of my habits which my husband finds annoying is that I never finish my tea. Usually, I would leave a teabag in to get my tea strong enough, yet by the moment I reach the very bottom of the cup, those last drops are already way too strong and no longer tasty. So I leave them. It actually never occurred to me that it was something weird. Moreover, before recently I had no idea why do I actually do it like I do. It dawned on me, when my mother was visiting us recently and I made her a cup of tea. The puzzle pieces fell in place…
There is a story I heard in several iterations, where a kid is asking her mother why does she always cut off the ends of the sausage before baking. The mother couldn’t answer anything else, but that her own mother was doing it like that as well. So the kid goes to her granny, who is likewise ignorant of the reasons and encourages to ask the great-granny. The old lady three generations up replies with the question: ”Oh, you are not still frying on that small pan, do you?”.
That story and revelation about my tea drinking habit origins made me think about habits in general, or better about unconscious habits passed through generations. The way we do laundry, brush our teeth, fold clothes, or boil eggs (I had a separate post on the last one – check it out here: Understanding people and what hard-boiled eggs have to do with it ) is something we probably do without much thinking. We learned it by mimicking our parents, who probably learned it from theirs and so on. Nevertheless, the “pan” we use might already be significantly different. I wonder how many other habits have we acquired unconsciously? What if we ask a question of whether they are still relevant? What if we ask the proverbial “why”? What if the underlying assumptions no longer hold?
Another facet is, of course, to which extent should we go in our questioning spree? The beauty of a habit is that it saves us, let’s call it, brain battery. If we would do absolutely all things consciously by the end of the day we would probably just be depleted. Nevertheless, some degree (and I am still convinced that higher is better than lower) of consciousness and inquisitiveness is good to have. At least then we would be able to spot the “changed pan” situations and make timely changes.
What do you think? Do you have habits it is time to question?
I like the philosophy of choice the school of our kids lives by. Kids are working around projects. From as early as 2,5-3 years they are encouraged to pick the theme which interests them and then explore it, learning a whole bunch of things along the way. That all sounds nice in theory, however then the reality strikes: I am hearing the same songs about exactly the same themes for the second round already. It is surely possible that the interests of the group where our daughter was perfectly coincide with those of our son’s group two years later, but let’s be realistic — what’s the chance of such a coincidence?
Continue reading Spotting an illusion of choice
We encounter problems of a different scale on an everyday basis. Sometimes we succeed at finding desirable solutions, yet more than often the road to them turns out to be bumpy. In this short article, I would like to explore three common traps that make a problem-solving exercise very complicated at best.
To begin with, the trap number one is overthinking a problem. Continue reading Traps on the way to solutions
Why do we need to understand emotions in the first place? The short answer would be: to better understand ourselves, our triggers, motivation, reservations and ultimately even dreams. They say that there are only six basic emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust. Each of the six, however, is a whole spectrum, not just a single state. Are we able to spot these emotions in ourselves? Do we know when we are angry or sad? Can we unambiguously tell fear from disgust? Even more so: are we sure we can recognize happiness?… Continue reading Understanding emotions
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”:
- 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)
- 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?“
- 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?“
- 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“.
- 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