Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Backwards and forwards

Life must be lived forwards, however, it can only be understood backwards. – Soren Kierkegaard

We’re Wired for Blunders

We're hardwired to make blunders and avoiding them requires nearly superhuman discipline. Four tendencies conspire to sabotage our decisions at critical moments:

OVERCONFIDENCE.
We think we're smarter than we are, so we think the stocks we've chosen will deliver even when the market doesn't. When evidence contradicts us, we're blinded by...

CONFIRMATION BIAS.
We seek information that supports our actions and avoid information that doesn't. We interpret ambiguous evidence in our favor. We can cite an article that confirms our view but can't recall one that challenges it. Even when troubling evidence becomes unavoidable, we come up against...

STATUS QUO BIAS.
We like leaving things the way they are, even when doing so is objectively not the best course. Plenty of theories attempt to explain why, but the phenomenon is beyond dispute. And supposing we could somehow fight past these crippling biases, we'd still face the mother of all irrationalities in behavioral finance...

LOSS AVERSION (and its cousin, regret avoidance)
We hate losing more than we like winning, and we're terrified of doing something we'll regret. So we don't buy and sell when we should because maybe we'll realize a loss or miss out on a gain.

These tendencies are so deep-rooted that knowing all about them isn't nearly enough to extinguish them. The best we can do is wage lifelong war against them and hope to gain some ground.

Geoff Colvin
from his Fortune Magazine article Investor March Madness: We're Wired for Blunders, but can Improve Odds

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Arguments worth having

Parents who browbeat their kids into being obedient and agreeable may not be giving them the best preparation for the real world. A new study shows that encouraging teens to argue calmly and effectively against parental orders makes them much more likely to resist peer pressure.

University of Virginia researchers observed more than 150 13-year-olds as they disputed issues like grades, chores, and friends with their mothers. When researchers checked back in with the teens two and three years later, they found that those who had argued the longest and most convincingly—without yelling, whining, or throwing insults—were also 40 percent less likely to have accepted offers of drugs and alcohol than the teens who had caved quickly.

“We found that what a teen learned in handling these kinds of disagreements with their parents was exactly what they took into their peer world,” study author Joseph P. Allen tells NPR.org. The key to having a constructive debate with your kids, experts say, is listening to them attentively and rewarding them when they make a good point—even if you don’t end up reaching a mutual agreement. “Think of those arguments not as a nuisance,” Allen says, “but as a critical training ground” for wise, independent decision-making.

The Week Magazine

Monday, April 21, 2014

Welcome to the fairy tale

Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale. - Hans Christian Andersen

Sabotaging Yourself

From time to time a project will come along that seems so big and challenging you start to question your ability to succeed. It could be as epic as writing a book or directing major motion picture or it could be something more pedestrian like passing a final exam or delivering an important speech to your corporate boss. Naturally, some doubts will float through your mind when ever failures possible.

Sometimes, when the fear of failure is strong, you use a technique psychologist call self-handicapping to change the course of your future emotional state. Self-handicapping behaviors are investments in a future reality in which you can blame your failure on something other than your ability.

You might wear inappropriate clothes to a job interview, or… or stay up all night drinking before work – you are very resourceful when it comes to setting yourself up to fail. If you succeed, you can say you did so despite terrible odds. If you fall short, you can blame the events leading up to the failure instead of your own incompetence or inadequacy.

When you see your performance in the outside world as an integral part of your personality, you are more likely to self-handicap. Psychologist Phillip Zombardo told the New York Times in 1984, “Some people stake their whole identity on their acts. They take the attitude that ‘if you criticize anything I do, you criticize me.’ Their egocentricity means they can’t risk a failure because it’s a devastating blow to their ego.”

David McRaney
You are Not so Smart

Friday, April 18, 2014

the Climb

Life is in the climb. - Toby Mckeehan

It's Friday but Sunday's a Comin'

It was Friday. It was Friday and my Jesus was dead on the tree. But that was Friday and Sunday's a comin'.

It was Friday and Mary was crying her eyes out. The disciples were running in every direction, like sheep without a shepherd. But that was Friday and Sunday's a comin'.

Friday. They're saying, `As things have been so shall they be. You can't change anything in this world; you can't change anything. But those cynics don't know that it was only Friday. Sunday's comin'.

Friday, them forces that oppress the poor and keep people down, them forces that destroy people, the forces in control, them forces that are gonna rule, they don’t know it’s only Friday. Sunday’s a comin’.

Friday, people are saying darkness is gonna rule the world. Sadness is gonna be everywhere. But they don't know it's only Friday. Sunday's comin'.

It was Friday and on Friday Pilate thought he had washed his hands of a lot of trouble. The Pharisees were struttin' around, laughing and poking each other in the ribs. They thought they were back in charge of things. But they didn't know it was only Friday! Sunday's comin'!

This is the good news. Even though we know this world is rotten, we know it's only Friday...

The full sermon from Tony Campolo

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gethsemane

Looking through the shadowy foliage of Gethsemane, we don't see the classic portrait of Christ, rendered by the artist. We don't see Him in a snow-white robe kneeling beside a big rock, hands peacefully folded, with a look of serenity in His face as a spotlight from heaven illuminates His golden-brown hair.

Instead, we see a man flat on his face, fists pounding the hard earth in agony. We see a fact stained with tears and dirt, hair matted with sweat, facial muscles contorted in pain like the gnarled, twisted olive trees looking on. God was never more human than at this hour.

Have you been in the dark garden of Gethsemane? Betrayed by a friend? Deserted by those around you? Felt abandoned? Lonely?

The next time you think no one cares, pay a visit to Gethsemane and see the man of sorrows. Because seeing God like this does wonders for your suffering.

Charles Swindoll
For Those Who Hurt

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Love consists in

Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Stomping of the Foot

I'll never forget the student who charged out of one of my first philosophy classes. The professor had challenged the student's view of religion and the young man stomped his foot, turned red, yelled, and left. Why such an emotional outburst? Perhaps his beliefs were built on a weak foundation. A little rhetoric from an authority figure threatened to topple it over. Understanding the "why" behind a belief typically brings calm, thoughtful responses. It's when we accept the conclusions of others, never figuring out the "why" for ourselves that we build a weak foundation. Should we intentionally avoid opposing view points? It turns out we naturally steer clear of conflict. A recent study finds the less certain you are about what you believe, the more likely you’ll stay away from opposing viewpoints (and probably freak out when you run across a widely different opinion). Researchers reviewing nearly 100 studies came to that conclusion. Details are in the Psychological Bulletin by Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. People tend minimize their exposure when they are less certain and less confident in their own position. In fact, we're nearly twice as likely to avoid differing opinions than we are to consider different ideas. And for those who are close-minded.. the percentage jumps. Three-out-of-four times the close-minded will stick to what supports their own conclusions. Stephen Goforth

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Less Traveled Road

Briers below and limbs above. Avoiding them slows your walk. There's a log to step across. Here's a hole to avoid. Yet with your every step you come closer to seeing wonders few will know. The question is: Will getting past those obstacles below and above really be worth the surprising revelations you'll encounter? Choosing to walk the less traveled road may mean periods of intense loneliness and nagging doubt. There is the path of comfort and conformity and the path of adventure and self-definition. Your choice. Stephen Goforth

Monday, April 14, 2014

Let us not despair

Let us not cease to do the utmost, that we may incessantly go forward in the way of the Lord; and let us not despair of the smallness of our accomplishments. -John Calvin

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

Stop spending time with the wrong people.  Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.

Read more here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Knowledge and Power

Knowledge isn’t power until it it applied. – Dale Carnegie

The Artist is a Collector

An artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there’s a difference: hoarders collect indiscriminately, the artist collects selectively. They only collect things that they really love. There’s an economic theory out there that if you take the incomes of your five closest friends and average them, the resulting number will be pretty close to your own income. I think the same thing is true of our idea incomes. You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.

Austin Kleon
How to Steal Like an Arist