Tony Robbins once asked a crowd of thousands to imagine their door bell ringing. When they opened the door, he told them a “depressed person” was at the door. He then asked them to describe that person. The answers? Probably similar to yours: drooped shoulders, downcast, messy hair, a frown, a quiet voice, no eye contact. Then he asked them to imagine that a “happy person” rang the doorbell. What did that person look like? Big smile. Friendly eyes. Warm handshake. Raised chin, standing tall. Eye contact. Robbins then asked everyone to physically imitate “a depressed person” and “a happy person” for one minute — act “depressed” and act “happy.” Robbins asked them how they felt afterwards. The answer: it had a huge effect! Even a minute of acting like a “depressed person” made many people actually feel sad and alone. How you act determines how you are. If you want to […]

There are two trains of thought – One leads to procrastination and one leads to motivation. And somewhere in between, there is a junction called anxiety. Let’s first look at the procrastination train of thought (at least that’s going somewhere, amirite?). People often think procrastination is about time management, laziness, or a weak will but that is not the best way to understand procrastination. According to research, poor emotional regulation and a failure of self-regulation cause people to procrastinate. We procrastinate because some tasks put us in a lousy mood and we want to repair that mood to feel better. Ok, time is not entirely irrelevant when it comes to procrastination. After all, there are deadlines. But, it really is more about emotion/mood repair mechanisms in the context of time – specifically, the near future. Roy Baumeister, an influential psychologist, says that procrastination is a “self-defeating behavior pattern marked by […]

NASA needed a supercomputer to get us to the Moon, and it had to be generations ahead of the state of the art at the time. This is the 12th in an exclusive series of 50 articles, one published each day until July 20, exploring the 50th anniversary of the first-ever Moon landing. You can check out 50 Days to the Moon here every day. Your dishwasher has more brain power than the computer that flew the Apollo astronauts to the Moon. But don’t let your dishwasher take control of your spaceship anytime soon. That’s not a measure of how basic the Apollo computers were, but rather how much the engineers and programmers in the 1960s were able to do with the modest computing power that was available to them. The computer they created was a marvel, and its impact is all around us, even though we don’t notice. NASA […]

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Mendenhall Ice Caves, Alaska To get to the Mendenhall Ice Caves in Juneau, Alaska is a trek. You can only get there first by kayaking, then by ice climbing over a glacier. It’s worth it, though—the caves, which are in a partially hollow glacier, have water running over rocks under blue ceilings. The scene is otherworldly. Red Beach, Panjin China Forget about sandy white beaches here, this incredible beach is sandless and gets its striking red color from a type of seaweed. Known as Sueda, the seaweed grows green before turning red in the fall months. Red Beach isn’t just unusually beautiful, but is also a diverse ecosystem on one of the largest wetlands in the world. Hundreds of different bird species call it home and though most of the area is closed to tourists, there is a small section of the area open to nature lovers. Cave Of Crystals, […]

With enemies like these, the industry is going to need some friends. In October 2016, then-President Barack Obama hosted a miniature version of the blowout tech conference South by Southwest, which the White House called South by South Lawn. Obama, as The New York Times put it at the time, had “brought Silicon Valley to Washington.” He even hinted that if he hadn’t been president, he might have become a venture capitalist. “The conversations I have with Silicon Valley and with venture capital pull together my interests in science and organization in a way I find really satisfying,” he said. My, how times change! Most American politicians would not be caught consorting so openly with the technology industry these days. And now that Big Tech lacks top cover, government agencies are moving in. According to new reports, Google and Apple face deeper investigation by the Department of Justice, while the […]

Google’s definition of what makes the very best managers will help you be your very best. It’s not every day you learn of a really smart company setting out to prove that managers don’t matter. But that’s exactly what Google did with Project Oxygen. The hypothesis was that the quality of a manager doesn’t matter and that managers are at best a necessary evil, and at worst a useless layer of bureaucracy. The early work of Project Oxygen, in 2002, included a radical experiment — a move to a flat organization without any managers. The experiment was a disaster, lasting only a few months as the search giant found employees were left without direction and guidance on their most basic questions and needs. Never daunted, Google pivoted to extensively study the opposite question — what are the common behaviors of their very best managers? It came up with a list of eight attributes, verified quantitatively and qualitatively in […]

The idea of economic amends for past injustices and persistent disparities is getting renewed attention. Here are some formulas for achieving the aim. If you’re surprised that the issue of reparations for black Americans has taken so long to resolve, blame the president. President Andrew Johnson. As the Civil War wound down in 1865, Gen. William T. Sherman made the promise that would come to be known as “40 acres and a mule” — redistributing a huge tract of Atlantic coastline to black Americans recently freed from bondage. President Abraham Lincoln and Congress gave their approval, and soon 40,000 freedmen in the South had started to plant and build. Within months of Lincoln’s assassination, though, President Johnson rescinded the order and returned the land to its former owners. Congress made another attempt at compensation, but Johnson vetoed it. Now, in the early phase of the 2020 presidential campaign, the question […]

You might not be a virtuoso, but you have remarkable musical abilities. You just don’t know about them yet. Twenty years ago, a pair of psychologists hooked up a shoe to a computer. They were trying to teach it to tap in time with a national anthem. However, the job was proving much tougher than anticipated. Just moving to beat-dominated music, they found, required a grasp of tonal organisation and musical structure that seemed beyond the reach of an ordinary person without special training. But how could that be? Any partygoer can fake a smile, reach for a cheese cube and tap her heel to an unfamiliar song without so much as a thought. Yet when the guy she’s been chatting with tells her that he’s a musician, she might reply: ‘Music? I don’t know anything about that.’ Maybe you’ve heard a variation on this theme: ‘I can’t carry a […]

Smart guides for understanding this strange and contradictory moment in history. If you aren’t freaking out about something, then… well, then I’m freaking out that you’re not freaking out. Tell the rest of us: what’s your secret? Because the rest of us are pretty sure the world is going to hell in a flaming handbasket. And not only do we not know why, but we don’t know what to do. We live in a strange and contradictory time. On the one hand, the economies of the world are doing great! On the other, unless you’re wearing $2,000 Prada shoes and brush your teeth with truffle toothpaste, you’re not benefiting much from that growth. On the one hand, there’s less war than ever before. On the other, pretty much everyone seems to hate their own government and is actively working towards their own demise. So, what the hell is going on? […]

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

Is engagement with current affairs key to being a good citizen? Or could an endless torrent of notifications be harming democracy as well as our wellbeing? The afternoon of Friday 13 November 2015 was a chilly one in Manhattan, but that only made the atmosphere inside the Old Town Bar, one of the city’s oldest drinking haunts, even cosier than usual. “It’s unpretentious, very warm, a nurturing environment – I regard it with a lot of fondness,” said Adam Greenfield, who was meeting a friend that day over beers and french fries in one of the bar’s wooden booths. “It’s the kind of place you lay down tracks of custom over time.” Greenfield is an expert in urban design, and liable to get more philosophical than most people on subjects such as the appeal of cosy bars. But anyone who has visited the Old Town Bar, or any friendly pub […]

We should challenge the cult of Singularity. AI won’t take over the world Last year, I participated in a discussion of The Human Use of Human Beings, Norbert Weiner’s groundbreaking book on cybernetics theory. Out of that grew what I now consider a manifesto against the growing singularity movement, which posits that artificial intelligence, or AI, will supersede and eventually displace us humans. The notion of singularity – which includes the idea that AI will supercede humans with its exponential growth, making everything we humans have done and will do insignificant – is a religion created mostly by people who have designed and successfully deployed computation to solve problems previously considered impossibly complex for machines. They have found a perfect partner in digital computation, a seemingly knowable, controllable, machine-based system of thinking and creating that is rapidly increasing in its ability to harness and process complexity and, in the process, […]

It took me 18 months to write The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck. Over that time period, I wrote somewhere in the vicinity of 150,000 words for the book (about 600 pages). Most of that came in the final three months. In fact, I can confidently say I got far more done in the final three months than I did in the first 12 combined. Now, is that because I was on a deadline and worked like an insane person? Did I shove Adderall up my ass and work in 36-hour spurts or something? No, in fact, those last three months, I worked less each day than I did the first 12, yet I still accomplished far more. In this article, I’d like to make a simple argument (backed with lots of shitty images I created in MS Paint): that when it comes to productivity, things are not […]