Tuesday, July 21, 2009No Such Thing As Multitasking
At last, an article that articulates my thoughts on this matter. It's all about attention.
In Brain Rules, Medina points out that the brain cannot multitask:
"Multitasking, when it comes to paying attention, is a myth. The brain naturally focuses on concepts sequentially, one at a time. At first that might sound confusing; at one level the brain does multitask. You can walk and talk at the same time. Your brain controls your heartbeat while you read a book. A pianist can play a piece with left hand and right hand simultaneously. Surely this is multitasking. But I am talking about the brain’s ability to pay attention… To put it bluntly, research shows that we can’t multitask. We are biologically incapable of processing attention-rich inputs simultaneously."
If you’ve ever put on a CD to listen to while working, and then noticed with surprise that the music has finished and you can’t remember hearing any of it, you’ll know what Medina is talking about. Because we can only concentrate on one thing at a time, when we try to do multiple tasks that require attention, we end up switching between tasks, not doing them simultaneously.
Business coach Dave Crenshaw, author of the book The Myth of Multitasking, makes the same point:
"When I speak of multitasking as most people understand it, I am not referring to doing something completely mindless and mundane in the background such as exercising while listening to this CD, eating dinner and watching a show, or having the copy machine operate in the background while you answer emails. For clarity’s sake, I call this ‘background tasking’.
When most people refer to multitasking they mean simultaneously performing two or more things that require mental effort and attention. Examples would include saying we’re spending time with family while were researching stocks online, attempting to listen to a CD and answering email at the same time, or pretending to listen to an employee while we are crunching the numbers."
So there’s no such thing as multitasking. Just task switching - or at best, background tasking, in which one activity consumes our attention while we’re mindlessly performing another.
Monday, June 22, 2009Inspiration
Absolutely stunning shots of ice in Greenland. It will transport you to another world.
A must read short article on the thoughts of a 90 year-old vibrant Rabbi, 6 Reasons to Grow Old. Excerpt:
Tranquility tops his list. “You have achieved in old age what you have wanted to, if you are fortunate,” he said. The important battles have been waged, the decisions made. “You no longer have to do the pushing, the striving, the struggle.”
“You don’t rush to quick action,” Rabbi Haberman explained. “You’re more likely to stop and think.” These days he’s hardly indifferent to the world’s problems, he added, but he’s less inclined to think he can solve them, or that they’re soluble at all.
Americans are activists by nature, but “more happens to us than we cause to happen,” he has found. “You have to accept the unalterable.”
Moreover, the rabbi confessed, he’s increasingly apt to consider the possibility he’s wrong, a gift of old age (fourth on the list) he labeled “liberation from the compulsion to set everyone else straight.” He has loosened up, he told me, since his more dogmatic youth.
Each night before bed, he recites in Hebrew a passage from Psalm 31: “In God’s hand I entrust my spirit, when asleep and when awake/My body and spirit, God is with me, I shall not fear.”
“And I leave it at that,” the rabbi said.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009Focus
While doing spiritual exercises, a lot of people struggle with the idea that they can't steady or focus the mind. Very few people can hold the mind steady, however. So while you are chanting, you may start thinking of other things. But you can think of other things and still be chanting. You can do that. It's a mechanical thing. Don't stop the chanting, and don't try to control the mind. Just let the mind do what it wants, and you continue chanting. The mind is slowly trapping itself.
(From: Walking With the Lord by John-Roger, DSS)
Fascinating article on attention in today's New York Times. Excerpt:
Researchers have already observed higher levels of synchrony in the brains of people who regularly meditate.
Ms. Gallagher advocates meditation to increase your focus, but she says there are also simpler ways to put the lessons of attention researchers to use. Once she learned how hard it was for the brain to avoid paying attention to sounds, particularly other people’s voices, she began carrying ear plugs with her. When you’re trapped in a noisy subway car or a taxi with a TV that won’t turn off, she says you have to build your own “stimulus shelter.”
She recommends starting your work day concentrating on your most important task for 90 minutes. At that point your prefrontal cortex probably needs a rest, and you can answer e-mail, return phone calls and sip caffeine (which does help attention) before focusing again. But until that first break, don’t get distracted by anything else, because it can take the brain 20 minutes to do the equivalent of rebooting after an interruption.
“Multitasking is a myth,” Ms. Gallagher said. “You cannot do two things at once. The mechanism of attention is selection: it’s either this or it’s that.” She points to calculations that the typical person’s brain can process 173 billion bits of information over the course of a lifetime.
“People don’t understand that attention is a finite resource, like money,” she said. “Do you want to invest your cognitive cash on endless Twittering or Net surfing or couch potatoing? You’re constantly making choices, and your choices determine your experience, just as William James said.”
Financial Quote of the Day from Paul Kedrosky:
An interesting comment from Nassim Taleb at today's New Yorker Summit. He argues that even 1980s level of economy-wide debt are intolerable today, in part because of the Internet:
“We have to be a lot more careful going forward, because we have globalization, the internet, and operational efficiency — which cannot accommodate debt.”
We live in a world with less slack than ever, whether you're thinking in epidemiological or financial terms (and they are analogous), and that has immense consequences for runs, of whatever variety.
Thursday, January 22, 2009Move From Relaxation
“Let go and let God" is not a cliché.
It is a practical direction.
Is there any hurry to go anywhere?
Where are you going that you are not already there?
How can you be impatient
when the important things are always present?
If you want the spiritual flow to work unconditionally,
then you must let it flow unconditionally.
Just keep it open.
You receive as openly as you give.
If you start qualifying,
If you move from a state of tension,
you will be blocked.
If you always move
from your center of relaxation,
you will be free.
(From: The Tao of Spirit by John-Roger, DSS)
Marjorie criticized me for not mentioning the Inauguration. Well to make up for it take a lot at this.
I am not impressed with Treasury Secretary nominee Tim Geithner. It seems like politics as usual, to me.
Jim Fallows' take:
So by the standard of what the country needs right now, I would probably vote for Geithner's confirmation as Treasury Secretary, if I were in a position to do so.
But I do not believe, and will never believe, that his failure to pay his own self-employment tax while at the IMF was an "oversight" or a "mistake." I have many many friends who have worked for this and similar organizations. I have myself over the years juggled the complexities of what is self-employment income and what is W-2 income and how to handle income from non-US sources -- and I have a lot less financial acumen than any Treasury Secretary aspirant should and must have. (Though I also use Turbo Tax!) Not a single person I have known from the IMF or similar bodies, not a one, believes that Geithner could have "overlooked" his need to pay US self-employment tax. When I have received similar income from international sources, the need was obvious even to me -- and I wasn't receiving and signing all the forms to the same effect Geithner would have gotten from the IMF. I could go on with details but I'll just say: if this were a situation more average Americans had experienced personally, he would not dare make his "mistake" excuse because everyone would say, "Are you kidding me???"
And this from The New Yorker's James Surowiecki:
In his written responses to questions from the Senate Finance Committee, the Treasury nominee Tim Geithner explained the decision to let Lehman Brothers fail as the result of … well, actually he didn’t really explain why the government let Lehman Brothers fail. Geithner offered up an explanation for why the Federal Reserve didn’t step in—it didn’t have the legal authority to do so, and didn’t ask for the authority because it was important to maintain “the line between the responsibilities and authorities of the fiscal authority, and those of the monetary authority.” (More important than averting a massive dislocation in the financial markets?) But he doesn’t explain why Treasury didn’t step in, or why it didn’t ask for the authority to do so beforehand, given that Lehman’s demise was not exactly unanticipated. And I don’t understand why, if in fact the Fed and Treasury couldn’t save Lehman because of legal restraints, they were able to step in and save A.I.G., which was also a nonbank, just two days later.
Geithner’s answers on this question were as unsatisfying as just about everything else we’ve heard on it. I suspect the honest answer is the one the Fed chair Ben Bernanke first proffered when he testifed before Congress, on September 24th: “The Federal Reserve and the Treasury declined to commit public funds to support the institution.” That is, they could have committed public funds, but decided not to. The problem is that since it’s clear now that letting Lehman fail was a complete disaster, no one wants to own up to the decision.
To regain confidence and trust we have to do better than this.
Monday, December 22, 2008Choice
Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress. We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread ... they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.
- Viktor Frankl
The biggest mistake I find that people make is confusing abundance with financial wealth (dollars). The two are not even related. Long before there was money there was abundance. Besides the greatest wealth we have is inside of us. In the world that often translates as the ability to choose. That means we need not ever feel like a victim to circumstances. We can always turn to the Spirit. We can always look for, and find, the good.
A couple of interesting posts from veryshortlist.com.
I am not interested in wine, but fascinated by perception, so this interested me a lot:
Emily Post wouldn’t advise you to serve dinner guests fermented liquids that cost less than a bottle of Pellegrino. But according to a new study by Swedish economists, people actually prefer wines like E.&J. Gallo to more expensive vintages.
The study was based on 6,000-plus blind tastings of bottles that ranged in price from $1.65 to $150. As a rule, expert tasters showed a slight preference for pricey wines, while non-expert tasters preferred cheaper (and sweeter) bottles.
Why, then, do we squander our money on the fancy stuff? Another set of researchers asked subjects to sip wine while lying down in an fMRI machine and found that simply telling people that they were drinking an expensive wine activated the pleasure centers in their brains. Snobbery might be a waste of cash, but it sure feels good.
And I happen to think there is something to this:
Barack Obama may be basking in the early and frequent comparisons to Franklin Delano Roosevelt — but then, the president-elect probably hasn’t read Amity Shlaes’s The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression.
According to Shlaes — and contrary to conventional wisdom — Roosevelt’s push for nationalization drove the United States deeper into the Depression and gummed up the wheels of our economy. FDR’s effort to nationalize utilities kept the South without electricity for most of the thirties; his vengeful prosecution of successful industrialists cowed the private sector into paralysis; his National Recovery Act generated 10,000 pages of new federal law (more than the entire output of the preceding 144 years) and created a crippling bureaucracy. And according to Shlaes, Roosevelt wildly overstepped his powers to do it. Though the New Dealer’s version of “Yes we can!” was more strident and bullying than Obama’s, Shlaes’s logic suggests that in laying out his economic strategy, our president-elect should remember the following: Just because you can enact sweeping changes doesn’t mean you should.
And for an uplift this is a good read. Excerpt:
Every year, Australia hosts 543.7-mile (875-kilometer) endurance racing from Sydney to Melbourne. It is considered among the world's most grueling ultra-marathons. The race takes five days to complete and is normally only attempted by world-class athletes who train specially for the event. These athletes are typically less than 30 years old and backed by large companies such as Nike.
In 1983, a man named Cliff Young showed up at the start of this race. Cliff was 61 years old and wore overalls and work boots. To everyone's shock, Cliff wasn't a spectator. He picked up his race number and joined the other runners.
The press and other athletes became curious and questioned Cliff. They told him, "You're crazy, there's no way you can finish this race." To which he replied, "Yes I can. See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn't afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I'd have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I'd always catch them. I believe I can run this race."
Sunday, November 23, 2008In Harmony With Infinite Supply
The following quote is from Timeless Wisdoms by J-R. Please read it and keep it close by you. There are so many keys here to living the spiritual principles of abundance and prosperity. Every time you read or hear anything negative about the economy or environment, instead of being caught up in what is being said, perhaps you can read this quote.
Ultimately, you can’t do anything “wrong,” because God is with you, in you as you, and is making sure that it all comes out perfectly. And that is a lot to be thankful for.
An attitude of gratitude is also a key to being in harmony with infinite supply. When you can honestly and truly thank God for what you have, for all your experiences, for all the people in your life, and for all your expressions, the sense of gratitude goes very deep. In that depth, you are open to infinite supply.
You also might think about being grateful when your desires are not being fulfilled. You might think about being grateful when your prayers are not being answered. Let those desires and prayers go, and ask only for the highest good, that you might be free of the creation of desire, that you might be free from illusion, that you might be free to know your own Soul and its perfection and glory.
Sometimes the best way to make the most out of a situation is to get out of it. The other way is to accept it and be grateful that it isn’t worse. I find that it’s much easier to just love it all. When it shows up, I go, “Wow. Another form of loving. Another face of loving. Another expression of loving. Another location of loving.” And then I get to participate in it. That’s grateful.
As you accept what you have and give thanks for your blessings, you find your life becoming happier and happier. Because, truly, my friends, you are blessed. There is not one of you who is not continually receiving of God’s infinite blessings and grace.
Saturday, November 15, 2008Perspective
Enjoy this beautiful piece of work. The music alone is worth it. This was shot with a mobile phone. (Tropfest NY 2008 winner, "Mankind Is No Island" by Jason van Genderen).
Saturday, November 1, 2008Maintaining the Positive
There is only one message from God, although there are many ways that it’s said and many ways that it’s expressed. That one message is that all things come from God. Everything has its existence because God is.
There is great security in knowing this. God is multi-dimensional; God is everywhere, in all things and in all levels of consciousness. So the things that appear to be negative are only learning devices, not punishments.
(From Timeless Wisdoms by John-Roger, DSS)
Fortunately, the readers of this blog have very positive outlooks. Here are a couple of lovely examples from today:
Reader 1) A friend came up with the idea of a "sentimentometer". There are times when she feels low and her sentimentometer is on the negative side. So she does some internal adjustment to swing back into the positive.
My understanding is that the financial markets tend to reflect sentiment. So what if more of us individually became accountable for our "sentiment" such as our sentimentometer was more on the positive side? Could this make any difference, I wonder?
In the bath this morning, I felt my energy go down and my mind tip into worrying mode. So I remembered to surrender to God, came into the present moment, to enjoying my bath and very easily felt just fine again.
Reader 2) I also feel that the economy has some sweet spots in it and there are zeitgeist areas that will yield great success. Those areas include environmental/sustainable services and products, health and wellness and self-improvement. Real estate will also right itself and the finance markets will stabilize.
I stay centered and inspired when I remind myself that the economic freefall (or any life challenge) will not be solved with the focus being on the problem. Good (God) is found wherever one looks for it.
If you are still vacillating on budgeting, this post may help get your tushie in gear.
Financial Quote of the Day (From David Fuller of Fuller Money):
It does China no harm to have a spare trillion dollars, to help prime the economy for any slowdown. Projections that the Chinese economy will slow more than forecast are gaining airtime as American and European economies move into recession. However, no one knows for sure how far it will slow. What we do know is that no other country is as well placed to weather this storm.
I happen to believe that China will be the U.S. of this century and will lead the world. It won’t happen overnight, but they are on their way.