Death From A Thousand Papercuts (Self-help Books)

Self-help guides are everywhere. You cannot move within 30 links on the internet without hitting one. On top of that, there are over 240,000 self-help books available for purchase on Amazon. And I’m sure that many of them are fantastic, well-reviewed and considered best sellers.

But the thing is, none of these books are really essential reading. Almost all of them have the same ideas to express to you. You can summarize most of these ideas pretty easily and rather quickly if I’m going to be frank with you, dear readers. I read this great article a couple of years back and decided to summarize it’s summary of this idea for you. So which is greater the summary of self-help books or the summary of the summary of self-help books?

17ce985b6237d681590d240a6d200a13facd9034e3ece501a61bf3a1f7f6db56

I guess you’ll find out pretty quick won’t you?

12 Lessons From Self-help Books

No martter what the topic, there are commonalities for all tips of self-help and this list of 12 points should do the trick in laying it all out for you, the ever efficient consumer of information.

  1. You are in control of your emotions and can change how you feel. No one else can do it for you.
  2. Mirror successful people. If you follow the habits of the leader, you will adopt them and transcend your current lifestyle.
  3. The law of attraction is real. You bring into your life what you spend your time thinking about. So think on good things OR use affirmations to get you there
  4. Be present and avoid thinking about the past or future. With presence you stop worry and avoid anxiety.
  5. Leave your comfort zone. You need to evolve and grow through discomfort.
  6. Procrastination is bad – Have goals and to-do lists, work on what matters to get what you want.
  7. Accountability for your actions. Own the things you can influence and work to enforce them when good OR change them when bad.
  8. Value your unique qualities. Never compare yourself to others, instead compare your past self to who you are now.
  9. Treat yourself. Have fun, enjoy things you care about. Life experience is important.
  10. Have gratitude. Life is full of problems, but you turn them into opportunities.
  11. Positive self-talk. I can do this. Tell yourself that every time you have doubt.
  12. Visualize what you want. Visualization is a commonly recommended technique with positive self-talk. It is becoming increasingly popular in therapy as psychologists use imagery to not only work through problems, but change behavior. The basic aim is to see in your mind what you want. Advanced visualization incorporates sight with taste, smell, touch, and sound of having achieved your goal.

Should You Read Self-help Books?

With all of that said, you’re probably wondering if you should even read self-help books now. Well friends, I’ll be the first to admit that as I get older, my memory doesn’t seem to be improving, and in some cases, like for instance if I don’t get enough sleep, I definitely don’t remember things that I should.

So you know what they say right? Well no, no you don’t.

Seriously? I just made that point above and you’ve already forgotten it?

The point is this, motivation is temporary but discipline helps us with ingraining new ideas into our being, if you follow a pattern for more then 30 days it begins to take root and turn into a habit, but 90 days its your primary mode of function.

Even once you know the summary of all of these great books, it doesn’t mean you have the practice down to a science. And let’s be honest, the reason why the knowledge is so frequently referenced is because it is pretty useful for anyone really. After all, just because you read a summary, it doesn’t mean you had a moment of enlightenment, sitting with an idea helps in that process. But that’s just a theory.

 

Tim!

 

 

Master of None (Multi-Tasking Misery)

Remember that time when I wrote about the Pomodoro Technique?

That was definitely one of my favourite posts of the Life Hack series that we’ve had so far – it addressed time management and cutting out multi-tasking. But I know that a lot more can be written about both concepts, especially as solo posts, which is why I’ve decided to dedicate today’s post specifically to the topic of Multi-Tasking Misery.

In case you need a refresher, here is what I had to say the first time around when it came to … Multi-task misery. Learn to multi-task the right way, by cutting it out of your life. If you keep a million tabs open on your browser, you’re gonna have a bad time. Please remove distractions while you work and spend time with others. Turn off your phone, close your tablet, and focus on the task at hand.

If you do your homework on the topic of multi-tasking, you will discover rather quickly that there are a few schools of thought on the subject. For the sake of simplicity, we are going to break them down into two groups – believers and researchers.

Believers act as if.

The idea behind the phrase “act as if” is straightforward. It uses the Law Of Attraction, which is the idea that if we act as if something already exists for us, whether that thing is a physical or mental possession, we will somehow create conditions to have that thing be realized in our lives.

It’s a cool idea in theory, but I have to wonder how realistic that expectation is.

What I am getting at dear readers, is that believers act as if multi-tasking works and therefore they set up the conditions for them to accomplish multiple tasks at any given time. Whether this is good or bad, believers often get what they expect.

On the other side of the coin are the researchers. Researchers have used experience and testing to determine if multi-tasking is really the way to go. I’ll give you a hint as to the answer, I’m covering this group off second, and I was taught to end a point with your stronger argument.

Multi-taskers are in fact truly guilty of task-switching, because people cannot physically do more than one task at a time. What they are really doing is using up precious energy jumping between tasks, never really getting in the zone, and ultimately wasting important productivity. This loss comes in the forms of longer individual task completion time, error increases, and wasted brain power.

Let’s talk more about that wasted brain power. According to this article, research shows that while multi-tasking does slow you down, it also effects your IQ points. People can experience drops of 15 points from multi-tasking, which is equivalent to staying up all night or smoking marijuana. What this means is that your cognitive function goes down and your decision making ability is limited.

And there is also research that indicates that using your phone, laptop, and tablet while on another activity, say television for instance, can permanently reduce your brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, AKA the place where you experience empathy and emotional control.

So what’s a creative to do? Especially when we are so used to  jumping back and forth on multiple projects, emails, and visual stimuli? I have another article that will help, but below is a nice short list.

  1. Plan your day in blocks – which I’ve written about at length recently
  2. Manage your interruptions by taking a deep breath every time an external OR internal prompt comes up, then use 5 minutes to refocus
  3. Turn off computer notifications and flip your phone to be back side up
  4. If you have a wandering mind, especially in meetings, acknowledge the thought or thoughts, but quickly remind yourself where you are and get back to the task at hand
  5. Emergencies happen – instead of using the dreaded multi-task, stop and note where you were, especially what you were going to do next. Then deal with the problem at hand. Once done you can refresh the other task more easily.

Another life hack covered, and another tool to put on your belt my friends. But what do you think of this theory, is it whack or a great hack? Please share, subscribe, and comment if you’re up to the challenge. Otherwise, I’m theoried out for the day, so I’ll hit you back tomorrow with Nextfest.

 

Tim!

 

Who Am I? (Finding Your Personal Identity)

One of the biggest questions of life is, who am I?

Questions of “why am I here”, “where am I going?” and “what am I supposed to do?” are functions of that larger question, but important in identifying YOU as both an individual and a global citizen of the world.

Do a quick Google search and you’ll find that everyone has tried to answer the question, from religious and spiritual leaders like the Pope and the Dalai Lama, to business leaders like Oprah, Forbes, and Tony Robbins. And while I agree that when it comes to the larger picture, each leader has something to contribute to the conversation, I’m going to ask you to ignore all of that for a moment.

Think about yourself and your goals.

What kind of creative type are you? A dancer? A photographer? A fashion designer? A sculptor?

The reason why I want you to think to focus on your creative interests first and foremost, is that no matter what your cultural identity has been labelled as and what your life experience has led up to this point, you came to this website because of your creative passions. That is what is unique to you – your driving motivation. And timotheories is all about digital curating at heart. The arts drive the engine of timotheories, so that is what connects us together.

A wise person once told me that you have to separate the chicken shit from the chicken salad, you can only accomplish that by looking inward and paring down the outside world to what you want at personal level.

4e91a989778c99887f88a13f98b9ab6329c6787d0c4f2cbcc23e03d8b24f3ee7

We at timotheories understand that it is difficult to reconcile all the various personal and political considerations of life, but if making art is what drives you and what you always come back to, you need to build your identity outward starting with that which gives you motivation. Now let’s consideration motivation.

Think about yourself and your motivations.

I’ve heard numerous theories about motivation but my favourite one is about the levels of motivation. I’m paraphrasing quite heavily from the original source (which I cannot for the life of me find) but I’ll break it down for you anyway, as the concept is very accessible.

You will need to satisfy all of these conditions in order to stay on purpose.

  1. When you don’t want to at all. You need to have a reason to create from a very selfish standpoint when you are in your lowest moments. The instant gratification of being better. Whether it’s to be more attractive to potential partners, to look cool around your peers, or to get recognition from people you want to be. That day-to-day motivation is key.
  2. When you do want to. This is the time when everything lines up perfectly in your week and you have energy to be creative. You know that paying the bills and being a functioning member of society are important – You want to contribute because it feels good to make the work. Use that motivation to be disciplined in your approach. Fit in as much as you can with your routine.
  3. When you feel inspired. The average person would call this true motivation, but it is fleeting. This is when you pour every spare moment into your craft. The natural high comes in and your spirit, moral compass, heart or whatever you want to call it, are driving you. You need to encourage this and align your creativity with your belief system. Focus on how you feel about your ideals and fuse your creative energy (different from regular energy) with it.

Once you begin this process for yourself and commit to the foundational steps of defining your creative motivations, you can also separate the chicken shit from the chicken salad.

And that my friends is the tip of the identity iceberg, which we will dig into over the coming months. Otherwise, I am out of theories for the day! I hope you’ve had an excellent weekend and I’m looking forward to this weeks Melodic Monday, Theatrical Tuesday, Wisdom Wednesday, and Timely Thursday posts. You won’t want to miss’em! I promise.

Tim!

A Serious Quote (Address Depression)

Do you ever struggle with life, dear readers? Feel aimless or that you have ambition but cannot focus? A sense of despair? I’ve been there too and can be challenged by life, almost unexpectedly it seems.

Today’s post is a more serious one, so I’m giving you all some fair warning.

I often wonder about the mind and the incredible potential for both success and failure.

And I dare say it, but I have a theory that someone who is creative might experience depression and other kinds of mental illness just a little more vividly than we’ve been led to believe in the day-to-day. And I also believe that those creative types are not more likely to experience it either.

Check out this article for a little more information on the topic.

The hard reality is that mental illness does effect a lot of people, and it is more common than we want to admit, while we are spending more time on educating ourselves about this particular health issue, it’s so intricate and complex, and there are so many forms of mental illness that we need to look into, but we generally fear the unknown.

I’m fortunate (I would never say unfortunate, but I would say highly sensitive to and conscious of) having loved ones in my life who have experienced different kinds of mental illness, so I think on this aspect of life quite often, and I have a great deal of compassion for those who live with it and their loved ones as well.

This article from the perspective of artist with depression is quite good too.

In it the author outlines some very important points for us all to remember.

1) Depressives are empathetic to everyone but themselves
2) There is no cure for depression, but exercise and work are excellent treatment
3) Depressives don’t choose to be sick, and suicidal thoughts are very real and not black and white
4) If you love someone who has depression, physical touch helps; as does being around them and choosing accepting silence
5) Depression is a result of your waking life, and addiction comes with it. The culprit is the mind.

In short, people who struggle with depression are fighting a battle of the mind, a battle of life over death, and your love is enough. Never take responsibility for their depression, and never blame them for it. Love them as you would love someone who has experience a physical loss of health.

Pulling from the article I just referenced, some depressives intimately understand the principle that Descartes wrote about

I think, therefore I am, said Descartes. Therein lies the problem. Some depressives conclude, as Robin Williams did this past week, that not thinking and not being is preferable to the alternative. I’m shattered that he lost his battle, but I’m also glad he’s free of his pain… You couldn’t have prevented their death and there’s nothing you should have done differently. The suicide’s logic has nothing in common with yours. In the end, death makes mad, perfect sense to them.

So in light of this topic, I want to share a beautiful site that I used to frequent quite often in the past, and while I haven’t looked at it regularly in recent years, it can be a place of solace for troubled thoughts, whether you are experiencing temporary depression or suffer from the mental illness.

It’s called The Quotations Page and is an exhaustive source of famous quotes which has been around for over 2 decades. The list of quotes is upwards of 30,000 quotes, so you know that there are excellent choices not only by author, but also by subject.

This can be especially helpful for moments when you need motivation, inspiration, or to share a sweet moment with someone you care about.

I’m going to close out today’s post with a favorite quote of mine from a brilliant modernist painter, which you can find on The Quotations Page, and I hope gives you a source of light that you benefit from using this resource yourself.

Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.

Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954)

And that my friends are all of the theories and wisdom I can impart for the day. Please leave some comments or send me an email at timotheories@outlook.com if you have something you’d like to share. I’d love to publish it in my next Wisdom Wednesday post.

Tim!

 

White Light, White Heat, White Noise (SimplyNoise AND Rainy Mood)

Do you ever run into issues with concentration?

Me too dear readers, me too.

I get it. You want to make art, and you’ve finally decided to start keeping a schedule, but there are a million noises messing with your head. Or maybe absolute silence is your problem, you need a little bit of ambient noise to keep you focused.

This can be especially challenging when you feel like you want noise in the background while you work but you don’t want to have people talking to you directly or for them to be engaged in lively discussion which could distract from your purpose. The same could be true of music you decide to listen to in those situations. Some music is just too powerful and will not alleviate your concentration concerns.

In other words, if it gives you a strong emotional response or the lyrics illicit thoughts you don’t need to have, then it just won’t do.

It just won’t do my friends!

779000e332893310f5ffba354050b436ccb585fc

But hold up. I want to play devil’s advocate for a second here – Have you ever heard the idea that music can increase concentration and retention? I’m sure you have. If you haven’t I’ve supplied a few articles below for you to get you in the correct mindset for where I am about to go. I’m going to get you in the zone. And then I’m going to get you into the zone for concentration.

See what I just did there?

How to Increase Concentration and Retention – @WashULaw

Does music help you focus? Yes, but only if you like the music – Tech Times

Classical music improves concentration and social skills – Limelight Magazine

So we’ve now learned a few things about music and whether it really can help us get more done, and if it is a tool in fostering creativity.

Well one thing is for certain, music can help you to ignore your surroundings and it definitely helps to make the mundane more digestible in an environment which is filled with or without noise, but ambient noise (or music) is probably the antidote we need.

The reality is that as I’ve mentioned earlier, lyrics can sometimes be something of a nuisance, especially if language is your choice of task. Having mentioned this, if you are listening to something which you are incredibly familiar with, then that music can easily become something that serves as white noise and will allow you to focus. New music is, surprisingly enough, NEW, so you are going to listen more intently to what you hear, which makes it difficult to use for concentration.

Well what works then Tim?

Fortunately we have a few options. Both classical music and EDM (electronic dance music) can do the trick because they lacks lyrics. These are fairly obvious choices, but video game music might not be and I assure you, it is definitely something to look into.

There are some other decent options, but ones of which I am less convinced about. These include Jazz, Blues and Hip Hop, but mostly because I am drawn to the lyrics in that particular type of music and I don’t want to advertise something which could fizzle out for you dear readers.

But the solution I have for you today my friends is what I am most excited about!

What if the solution was available to you all along?

What if nature had the answer?

What if I got to the point?

I have a couple of websites for you to check out.

One of them is simplynoise.com – This is an amazingly simple solution created by a professional sound designer to produce three kinds of noise. White noise, which is equivalent to the sound of a TV without reception. Pink noise, which sounds like a waterfall and changes frequencies somewhat. And lastly brown noise, which according to the website, is the most relaxing.

Option number 2 is rainymood.com. This one is a little bit more aesthetically pleasing, but doesn’t offer quite as many options in terms of what you can do. Having said that, sometimes you don’t want to think about your noise choices, and you just want to turn it on and go.

Regardless of which one you choose, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear you tell me your productivity has increased upon lending your ear to something different. But I’ve got no more theories, you fine folks. Leave me some comments and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Tim!