I often try to help people.

Not sure I get it right every time.

It is something of a calling for me…though as time goes on I have to be more selective about it.

What I don’t often talk about is helping myself or why helping is important.

We won’t talk about why today either.

What I need today is to capture some thoughts.  These will probably not impact people or be easily understood – I have heard people say that ’emotional intelligence’ is a thing.  Well, there’s a phrase I’ve been playing with, ’emotional perspective’.  Something where the meaning & understanding are not as impacting once the moment is gone.


Children.

When you have a part of your brain that doesn’t work, how do you make the choice to pass that along?  For Asperger/autism spectrum it’s a struggle, but it’s not an altogether hopeless thing.  Most people are reactive to treatment for ADHD and develop some amount of coping skills, but some are crippled by the condition & not able to advance themselves at the rate of others.

This can be depressing.

When we get to double depressive, bipolar, manic type conditions … we are now talking about not just something that is making life hard, it’s literally eating / deadening chunks of your brain … stealing months & years off the end of your life.

Many days you barely make it through yourself.  How do you inflict that on someone else?  How do you risk it getting worse for your kid?

I know there’s many people who think you can just talk to the kids and that will help them understand…right?  Because we just talk to racist people & they suddenly give up being racist or we talk to clueless people who think picking on disabled is fun & they suddenly stop laughing?

The fact is that I’ve had to fight myself for my life … more than a few times each year.  More months than I haven’t … my brain gives me the feels & they are intense I weep with the beauty of music & my memories of wonderful people and things I’ve seen.  More regularly though, I am a mess inside and unable to comprehend the brutal world humans created for each other.

As an individual with autism spectrum w/adhd, a history of bipolar & double depressive on both sides of the family – I have issues comprehending people & their lack of context or why they can’t grasp my context.  How would I explain, guide & mentor a child of my own through their life.  Especially knowing it’s late in my life to start & my brain is taking vacations to destroy itself every so often each year?

What would be the content of the conversation…

  • You will see other people, but you mustn’t ever compare yourself to them – instead celebrate them & their joys like they are your own…because you might never experience their happiness for yourself?
  • You will live with fear, anxiety, depression, obsession for the rest of your short life?
  • These things will plague you at work, they will plague you in making & keeping friends, they will plague you in building a home & a life with your would be spouse.
  • You will always struggle with basic things that other people just get?
  • There are drugs that will help you, but eventually they will lose their power to help?
  • We need to live without attachment, to love fiercely, to appreciate every little thing, because no one is guaranteed anything other than death – except we are guaranteed to suffer more than others & to die earlier?
  • I have literally felt alone most of my life since 10 years old & you probably will too?
  • I traveled instead of of saving money as a young man & that you won’t have a chance in hell at college due to my choices, but that’s probably okay, because with all the disabilities – you would have to struggle much harder than other students?
  • I’m telling you this, but you need to struggle on anyways, even if one day I’m not around, even if I die early or lose my fight and choose to leave this world?
  • You might not have me to help guide you & honestly, I’m not sure how good of guide I can or have been?

Even if we come up with the perfect message & strip out all the negativity, will the very act of talking about it make it like a destiny to them?  Influencing and sticking that fear in their brains like a deterministic bias?

Can I medicate them from 9 years old till 18 to get them through the bad times without depriving them of time to develop their ability to cope?

I have to imagine that my parents had some of these same thoughts or discussions between themselves.  Knowing this I can’t blame them for getting divorced … do you scare the living crap out of them or coddle the children?  Its not an insignificant choice.

This all assumes I could be a basically good & well intending parent.  That my depression, sadness, anger, etc don’t make me unable to be there for my child.  That my kid never has to visit the ‘hospital’ to see me while I’m fighting my brain … I’ve avoided that thus far, but if it’s a struggle where there’s more on the stake than just me – that’s a bigger deal and a heavy anxiety debt to carry.  This assumes that even if I avoid going away, that I will be 100% present.  That my sadness won’t dampen my children or the medication won’t make me less empathetic & excited around them…or take me to the point where I don’t care enough about them or understand their happiness/sadness enough to connect to them.  The worst assumption is the one that what if between all of the stress in life, I become a monster who lashes out at my children?


I can’t really see the screen through my tears right now to type & there’s a guilty part of me that is glad my girlfriend from 10 years ago miscarried, because this is a hell of a thing to think & write…much less if my child’s well being depended on me & I barely make it by as is …

A day in the life of an average American

Not mine, but fascinating … have left it running on 2nd screen for awhile now, it’s fun to tweak the speed …

Graphical representation of how life is spent … Link … the author has two articles leading up to it – which are interesting too …

  • Part 1 – Link
  • Part 2 – Link
  • Part 3 – Link – already linked above.

The defeat of revolutions? Comfort & depression?

A little about depression … “double depression” (Dysthymia) that is and a funny perspective on the realities of society in the modern era … Link …

It reminds me of my grandparents when I was but 4 years old.  In one of a handful of those memories I actually recall vividly they babysat me.  We were at the park.  I was on bench between them.  Talking about things I didn’t really understand by telling me what things made people happy & sad.  Then instructing me one day it would be my turn to read the news papers.  I would have to know how to vote in order to help the country.  To do so, I would need to know how to read.

Also, if I knew how to read I would learn J. R. R. Tolkien was the great writer of the Hobbit & I could find more hobbit stories if I could read.

The funny part of the situation – 10 years later they were informing me they only consume media that is by comedians anymore – as the rest is too depressing … many years after they are gone, I found this today …

The distraction of the comfortable is always why revolutions fail. Once people reach a certain standard of living, they think they no longer owe it to the rest of humanity to continue fighting. They say they need a rest from all the hard work they did to get where they are. By the time they have kids, well, it’s over.

They gave it a shot.

Better luck, next generation.

Boomers, out.

But I don’t want to be their deadend.

And maybe you don’t either.

And if you’re fighting it, then you’re gasping for air while the rest of the free world is volunteering to drown.

If you’re taken in by the dread, it’s because it’s real.

You’ve seen the surface. You know this drowning world isn’t all there is.

Test.  I’m not sure why it speaks to me.  Test again.  Repeat later …

Correlation of good sleep & meditation…

Possible medical basis for meditations…by… ICUDOC  “I’m an MD, board certified Sleep Medicine physician certified by the ABIM (American Board of Internal Medicine)”

Sleep doctor here, including someone who has been involved in the treatment of PTSD. Lots of good advice here. The most important thing I can add however is that organizing your thoughts and recalling and digesting impactful, emotional events in your head is actually how the human mind works. Being alone with your thoughts, minimizing external stimulation to focus on the internal dialogue is an important daily activity even for as little as 15 minutes a day.

The problem with the modern lifestyle is you probably go from morning radio to podcast in car to Facebook, to work and Reddit during breaks and then back home to the TV. There are few opportunities for quiet reflection so is there any surprise that the first moment there are no distractions (once your head hits the pillow on your bed) you would start having your inner dialogue?

Your coping mechanism should not be more distraction and sleeping pills, but rather forced routine that involves that internal voice. Here are powerful coping mechanisms successful people use on a daily basis:

1) meditation 2) writing a diary 3) working out with minimal distractions 4) prayer 5) light house work with minimal distractions 6) sitting down and planning your daily agenda 7) opening your thoughts to a close friend or psychotherapist over regularly scheduled periods

These routine activities force you to confront your inner thoughts and you will have these necessary internal dialogues during appropriate times rather than moments you are trying to sleep.

People with PTSD (for example) who get in trouble are the kinds of people who ratchet up the distractions in their life because an inner thoughtful reflection on the horrors of life would be too painful. After awhile, distracting yourself becomes ineffective and sleep is often the first victim of a distracted lifestyle.

Good luck, I know this is hard!

Scientist invents “easily” usable photo attachment for water conditions

The portable attachment for a cell phone will make water measuring something done not just by the government or those with corporate deep pockets…

Inside scoop on what an EKG sensor can & can’t tell you…

In the world of wearable “kitty ears” … Link … which move based on your mood…

And recording sensors to monitor your brain for health purposes … The Muse … Link

What is the actual Scientists Opinion on what can be told about a person?

Not much actually … Link

Though, they have been used in helping with panic attacks … Link

More toys controlled by brain waves … puzzle games and helocopters … Link … there’s an intertesing TEDTalk in this one, also dealing with controlling your google glasses screen in a method beside eye motion.  Apparently according to the article one MD claims well funded government projects are less than 20 years from being able to literally read a thought from the human mind via the high density electrodes (for interrogation).

A bit longer of why the news is bad for you….

I like some level of awareness for news, but this article brings up a very valid point about the “learned helplessness” which plays into some concerns by “free thinkers” that news sources are bought by the rich in order to express their opinions or inhibit/increase people’s will to fight over certain issues.

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/apr/12/news-is-bad-rolf-dobelli

… Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be.

News misleads. Take the following event (borrowed from Nassim Taleb). A car drives over a bridge, and the bridge collapses. What does the news media focus on? The car. The person in the car. Where he came from. Where he planned to go. How he experienced the crash (if he survived). But that is all irrelevant. What’s relevant? The structural stability of the bridge. That’s the underlying risk that has been lurking, and could lurk in other bridges. But the car is flashy, it’s dramatic, it’s a person (non-abstract), and it’s news that’s cheap to produce. News leads us to walk around with the completely wrong risk map in our heads. So terrorism is over-rated. Chronic stress is under-rated. The collapse of Lehman Brothers is overrated. Fiscal irresponsibility is under-rated. Astronauts are over-rated. Nurses are under-rated.

News has no explanatory power. News items are bubbles popping on the surface of a deeper world. Will accumulating facts help you understand the world? Sadly, no. The relationship is inverted. The important stories are non-stories: slow, powerful movements that develop below journalists’ radar but have a transforming effect. The more “news factoids” you digest, the less of the big picture you will understand. If more information leads to higher economic success, we’d expect journalists to be at the top of the pyramid. That’s not the case.

News is toxic to your body. It constantly triggers the limbic system. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol). This deregulates your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress. High glucocorticoid levels cause impaired digestion, lack of growth (cell, hair, bone), nervousness and susceptibility to infections. The other potential side-effects include fear, aggression, tunnel-vision and desensitisation.
News increases cognitive errors. News feeds the mother of all cognitive errors: confirmation bias. In the words of Warren Buffett: “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.” News exacerbates this flaw. We become prone to overconfidence, take stupid risks and misjudge opportunities. It also exacerbates another cognitive error: the story bias. Our brains crave stories that “make sense” – even if they don’t correspond to reality. Any journalist who writes, “The market moved because of X” or “the company went bankrupt because of Y” is an idiot. I am fed up with this cheap way of “explaining” the world.

News inhibits thinking. Thinking requires concentration. Concentration requires uninterrupted time. News pieces are specifically engineered to interrupt you. They are like viruses that steal attention for their own purposes. News makes us shallow thinkers. But it’s worse than that. News severely affects memory. There are two types of memory. Long-range memory’s capacity is nearly infinite, but working memory is limited to a certain amount of slippery data. The path from short-term to long-term memory is a choke-point in the brain, but anything you want to understand must pass through it. If this passageway is disrupted, nothing gets through. Because news disrupts concentration, it weakens comprehension. Online news has an even worse impact. In a 2001 study two scholars in Canada showed that comprehension declines as the number of hyperlinks in a document increases[Link: http://www.wired.com/2010/05/ff_nicholas_carr/]. Why? Because whenever a link appears, your brain has to at least make the choice not to click, which in itself is distracting. News is an intentional interruption system.

News works like a drug. As stories develop, we want to know how they continue. With hundreds of arbitrary storylines in our heads, this craving is increasingly compelling and hard to ignore. Scientists used to think that the dense connections formed among the 100 billion neurons inside our skulls were largely fixed by the time we reached adulthood. Today we know that this is not the case. Nerve cells routinely break old connections and form new ones. The more news we consume, the more we exercise the neural circuits devoted to skimming and multitasking while ignoring those used for reading deeply and thinking with profound focus. Most news consumers – even if they used to be avid book readers – have lost the ability to absorb lengthy articles or books. After four, five pages they get tired, their concentration vanishes, they become restless. It’s not because they got older or their schedules became more onerous. It’s because the physical structure of their brains has changed.

News wastes time. If you read the newspaper for 15 minutes each morning, then check the news for 15 minutes during lunch and 15 minutes before you go to bed, then add five minutes here and there when you’re at work, then count distraction and refocusing time, you will lose at least half a day every week. Information is no longer a scarce commodity. But attention is. You are not that irresponsible with your money, reputation or health. Why give away your mind?

News makes us passive. News stories are overwhelmingly about things you cannot influence. The daily repetition of news about things we can’t act upon makes us passive. It grinds us down until we adopt a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitised, sarcastic and fatalistic. The scientific term is “learned helplessness”. It’s a bit of a stretch, but I would not be surprised if news consumption, at least partially contributes to the widespread disease of depression.

News kills creativity. Finally, things we already know limit our creativity. This is one reason that mathematicians, novelists, composers and entrepreneurs often produce their most creative works at a young age. Their brains enjoy a wide, uninhabited space that emboldens them to come up with and pursue novel ideas. I don’t know a single truly creative mind who is a news junkie – not a writer, not a composer, mathematician, physician, scientist, musician, designer, architect or painter. On the other hand, I know a bunch of viciously uncreative minds who consume news like drugs. If you want to come up with old solutions, read news. If you are looking for new solutions, don’t.

Society needs journalism – but in a different way. Investigative journalism is always relevant. We need reporting that polices our institutions and uncovers truth. But important findings don’t have to arrive in the form of news. Long journal articles and in-depth books are good, too.

I have now gone without news for four years, so I can see, feel and report the effects of this freedom first-hand: less disruption, less anxiety, deeper thinking, more time, more insights. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

This is an edited extract from an essay first published at dobelli.com. The Art of Thinking Clearly: Better Thinking, Better Decisions by Rolf Dobelli is published by Sceptre, £9.99. Buy it for £7.99 at guardianbookshop.co.uk