When the internet became big, everything changed. Fundamentally everything we did — learning, writing, communicating, finances, business, science — became changed. In many ways, convenience exponentially grew. So, here comes another question: is something similar to this already coming up again on the horizon?
A couple of blog posts ago, I discussed one of my primary tenets: making things 1% better every day. In this post, I’m going to drive home the key ingredient to this tenet: compound interest.
Life is a hard thing to deal with. There’s a lot of moving parts, variables, and decisions to make. All of these create small outcomes that eventually level to your life’s path. Because of this, it’s hard to determine a method of finding the best way forward. Fortunately, we’ve already created many simulations on life; simulations called games. This post is dedicated to delving into some of the strategies gaming uses which can be applied to real life.
For the longest time, I never really understood why out of all of the Bible stories, you’re taught “The Book of Job” the most in English classes. It really didn’t seem any more special than any of the other stories from the book, and yet I must have been taught it at least three times throughout high school and college. It could have been that my teachers were just not that good, but we always only followed the literary theory behind the story rather than the meaning of the story itself. However, I’ve sort of stumbled upon a revelation recently that there is, in fact, a very good nontheistic moral to come out of The Book of Job. And I wanted to dedicate this blogpost to discuss what I’ve found out.
Fitness, Exercise, Sleep, Meditation: these four things summarize the majority of health science over the past few years. And, while Fitness, Exercise, and Sleep are mainstays with vast amounts of research literature to back them up, Meditation is relatively new to the party. So, does meditation work?
Before I dive into that question, I think it’s appropriate to do a brief history lesson as to why it took so long for meditation to get into mainstream health culture in the West. After all, meditation is by no means a new practice; Buddhism was founded all the way back in the 6th century BCE, and people have been using it ever since. I think the primary cause of this was the rapidly increasing importance of mental health coinciding with a mental health decline, primarily occurring in the West. From this, you had figures like Alan Watts who transported the meditation philosophy of those such as Krishnamurti to the states. It took a while, but at this point meditation is pretty ingrained into the psychological and neurological sciences.
There’s a couple of associations that have been found in research. On the psychology side, positive correlations have been found between mindfulness/meditation in life satisfaction, and negative correlations with things such as depression, stress, and rumination. In neuroscience, we see those with heavy meditation experience to have significant cortical thickness.
I can also speak a bit for my own personal experience with meditation. I’ve been meditating on and off for the past four years, and I’ve noticed that three distinct benefits come with it: discipline, awareness, and transcendence. The first two of these are pretty self-explanatory; teaching myself to sit still for 20 minutes has helped me a lot in sticking to broader things like routine, and keeping in the present has helped me become more aware of my surroundings. “Transcendence” is a mindfulness-ism that primarily centers around separating the ego from reality. I’ve only experienced this maybe two or three times, but it is definitely the most notable and fun part of meditation. The best way I can describe it is seeing the world in the third person, without you being a character; watching everything go on without necessarily worrying about your place in it all. So, all things considered, I would say meditation works.
Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do higher quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.
The effect of meditation on brain structure: cortical thickness mapping and diffusion tensor imaging
Smith, Ben N.,, IV. (2018). Resiliency, generalized self-efficacy and mindfulness as moderators of the relationship between stress and both life satisfaction and depression among college students: An investigation of the resilience process (Order No. AAI10669675). Available from PsycINFO. (2040343683; 2018-11223-253).
Paul, N. A., Stanton, S. J., Greeson, J. M., Smoski, M. J., & Wang, L. (2013). Psychological and neural mechanisms of trait mindfulness in reducing depression vulnerability. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8(1), 56-64.
Vengel, D. (2016). The relationships among mindfulness, rumination, and stress-related sleep disturbance (Order No. AAI3738909). Available from PsycINFO. (1847049162; 2016-37861-016).
Sperka, M. (2016). Does a brief mindful meditation facilitate decentering and result in decreased depressive rumination? (Order No. AAI3739894). Available from PsycINFO. (1847901806; 2016-42143-118).
The world has unfortunately fallen behind on its promises to turn back climate change. While the Paris Accord seemed to be a step in the right direction, things have fell apart since the US split off. Meanwhile, the rapidly increasing supply of renewables in China appears to have been cut short by a sudden decrease in funding for environmental efforts. While hindsight is 20/20, the events that have followed make sense, as there is still much to do before we can think about collecting as a whole to fight climate change.