The Art Of Being Here

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Be A Man

Be A Man

The Dining Table

Furnishing a new home is pretty similar for most of us — Buy the bed that goes in the corner of the bedroom,wardrobe against the wall, sofa sits here, put the TV on that wall, shelves for books next to the work desk.

When designing for space though, things get a little strange.

Without gravity, our usually concept of furniture gets turned on its head. Do we really need a table when there isn’t gravity to keep things on it? Ditto a bookshelf. And while we’re at it, we can simply any side of that box we are in and make it functional in some way, since there is no real “up” or down” anyway?

Because of this most of the capsules in spacecraft are tremendously functional — which is good, since you don’t want to waste an inch if it takes gallons of fuel to haul things into space.

But in designing the habitation capsule for astronauts, it’s possible to go too far. We are, after all, designing for humans.

One of the things that space crews were adamant about keeping were dining tables.

It seems a most mundane thing thing to keep, giving that we can eat anywhere (TV dinners and grabbing lunch on the move). Yet it makes perfect sense.

The dining table, like the proverbial water cooler, is a place where people not only eat and drink together, but also chat (and gossip).  We all love a good debate over dinner about whether the latest Star Wars lived up to the franchise.

In the description for this video showing the crew of the International Space Station, they write:

Dining together can radically shift perspectives, blurring boundaries just as looking down on Earth from our vantage point, especially, when dinner partners are from all different corners of the world. But also mealtime lets us build a sense of camaraderie.

It is a reminder that even in the void and vacuum, people are people, and we need to connect and mingle. Preferably over food.

Check out the video below if you’re wondering what dinner looks like on the ISS. I just love the way they (literally) bounce stuff off each other.

Speaking the truth

Not everyone who speaks confidently knows what he is talking about.

Not everyone who knows what he is talking about knows the truth.

Not everyone who knows the truth lives it.

Eric Thomas on what you get out of life

You don’t get out of life what you want; you get out of life who you are.
Eric Thomas a.k.a ETthehiphoppreacher

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are by Amy Cuddy at TEDGlobal 2012

A TED Talk A Day, Day 42: We often hear about doing things before we feel it — fake it till you make it — but our natural reaction is to think it’s, well, fake. That it’s embarrassing and hypocritical. In this talk Amy Cuddy tells us how physically acting the way we want to be can actually influence our minds and our outcomes.

  1. We are fascinated by body language, or non-verbal communication. Especially when things get awkward!
  2. From body language, we make judgements and inferences, that often influence meaningful life outcomes — like who we hire/promote, who we go on a date with, and whether relationships will work. Even body language judgements in photos can affect outcomes.
  3. But we are also influenced by our own “non-verbals”.
  4. Shows of power and dominance often involve opening up and taking up space — both for humans and in the animal kingdom.
  5. We do the opposite when we feel powerless — we close up and make ourselves small.
  6. We have a tendency to complement someone else’s non-verbals. When someone shows dominance, we tend to make ourselves smaller. (We do the opposite)
  7. So the question is: can we “fake it till we make it”? Can we perform actions that show dominance to experience behavioural outcomes that makes us seem more powerful?
  8. The minds of the powerful differ from the minds of the powerless: they are more assertive, more confident, more optimistic, are able to think more abstractly. They also have high testosterone and low cortisol levels.
  9. The mind shapes the body, but the body also shapes the mind. Role changes can influence hormonal levels (like testosterone and cortisol).
  10. Different power poses can be change us: in Cuddy’s experiment with power poses, she found that people who perform high power poses were more likely to take a gamble after, and also experience an increase in testosterone level, and a decrease in cortisol. The reverse was true for people who did low power poses.
  11. In another experiment, people did high power poses before an interview, and it turns out those who did were favoured, even after taking into account evaluations of how good the content of what they said was. Presence made the difference; and this is related to characteristics like being passionate, enthusiastic, confident, captivating, authentic, and comfortable made a difference.
  12. Fake it till you become it. Don’t fake it till you make it, fake it till you become it. In a more personal turn to the talk, Cuddy relates how she had struggled to make it professional, and was close to giving up when someone told her to just do it regardless of how she felt, until she could do it. She does, and only years later does she realise that she no longer feels like she doesn’t belong where she is. So even though power poses don’t feel natural, we can do them as part of the process to become more powerful.
  13. Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes. These high power poses only require two minutes, but that can significantly create big outcomes if we use them at the right time.

Suggested action step: Fake it till I become it. Be the way I want to be even if I don’t feel that way yet.


Random threads of thought, floating in my mind.

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend about consistency and taking action, and I told him how I felt that taking action consistently wasn’t really one of my strengths. In comparison I thought he seemed a natural at getting things moving.

He thought for a bit and said that he never actually saw himself as consistent; what he did do though, was tell everyone that he was consistent — and through his need live up to that he became more consistent with what he did.

This, of course, is a fantastic example of cognitive consistency, not to mention public accountability. But I also realised that so much in life is actually within our sphere of influence — the question is which parts we want to focus on.

We might not live long enough to be perfectly perfect in all areas; yet isn’t there so much that want to change? What if we chose to?

What am I choosing to change, and what am I doing about it? How can I step up?

Today I came across 100 Days Without Fear, a wonderful project by Michelle Poler to face her fears so she could “feel her life while she’s in it”. This remind me of a similar project: 100 Days of Rejection by Jia Jiang, who went on to write the book Rejection Proof and give a TED talk about his experience.

Every time I read about challenges like this… I just feel like I want to do the same: step out in a big way, out of my comfort zone, out from my old life, and into something new. Someone once told me that sometimes you just need a massive change in life to move things forward.

Needless to say that fear is the only reason I haven’t done it.

What if I gathered some people to do it though? Would that help me (and them) overcome the fear of something like this? Would anyone join?

I’ve met many people who say they want to do things, but few who actually followed through. Like I told someone today: when we take up the challenge of the things that matter most to us, that’s when all our buttons will get pushed, that’s when we will be pushed to our limits.

There was a moment today when I realised how much time we spend focusing on small things, not seeing how intensely wrapped up we are in things that don’t matter. And yet we fear and stress out about them with our entire being, and we act out our entire lives based on them.

And most of the time we don’t realise we’re doing it.

The worse part is when we pass this fear, stress and obsession on to the people around us, to our loved ones, to our colleagues, to our friends. It can often feel like like comfort and connection to obsess together, but it isn’t — it’s actually more like passing an illness around endlessly.

How great it would be if we could pass joy around instead, like a contagious laugh.

All of us will die eventually. It’s the only destination we share in common.

(If that depresses you, then let Louis CK lighten it up for you — “…you’re going to be dead for way longer than your life, like that’s mostly what you’re ever going to be. You’re just dead people that just didn’t die yet.”)

Anyway, the thing is we all have to form some beliefs about that fact, and come to some conclusion about it so we don’t walk around with that thought it our heads all the time. We can also avoid it, of course. Which most people do.

A couple of months ago I was talking to an dear old friend of mine, and explained that this question formed a core part of what we call spirituality, and that the beliefs and conclusion we come to also affect the rest of the decisions we make in our lives, thus affecting how we live it.

If I’m honest I’d say I never thought very much about it till this year. I mean, I thought I did, but I was really just running away like most people do. But now I’m beginning to believe something about it, I sometimes get that gnawing feeling inside that’s telling me I’m not really acting 100% from those thoughts and beliefs yet.

 So I guess the question is: what am I going to do about it?

…and suddenly this songs plays:

“Who knows where the road will lead us? Only a fool would say.”All The Way, James Darren

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