All posts tagged: Life

The Heart of the City at Minus 8 Degrees

A Valentine’s Day poem written during my walk to work.  A bus stop advertisement mentions “the heart of the city” and inspires the title. The Heart of the City at Minus 8 Degrees The smell of rotten vegetables touches my nostrils The city is a fermenting refrigerator A hint of freshly dug dirt The sidewalk under repair Diesel exhaust – Frozen hearts of the workmen Engines running to stay warm on Valentine’s Day ___ Hardened souls, Yet the scent of colognes and perfumes Betrays secret desires How embarrassing to need love Hold me, on Valentine’s Day ___ My eyes meet other eyes For a moment, the reality of city life: Wide open hearts, closed windows Always I wonder Who is chasing whom, Valentine?   Critical Thinking: Take two minutes to mentally review your day, recalling images  and seeing them behind your closed eyes.  Write a short poem of your own.  Three or four lines will do!  Use a metaphor, which is a literary device for comparison and symbolism, a word or description is applied to …

Willpower and Winter Fitness

How much willpower does it take to stay fit during cold winter months?  Worried or shamed about skipping/shortening workouts?  Plus, reframe and re-up your winter workout!     During the summer months, it’s relatively easy to fit in fitness.  Sunny, warm weather invites us to take a walk, hike, ride, or swim, whereas freezing temperatures encourage holing up indoors. We’re dressed in hoodies and sweatpants but are loathe to get off the couch. How can we maintain or increase our fitness when all we want to do is hibernate? The answer is to find balance in three features of any fitness regime:  consistency, duration, and intensity. Duration: Increasing the duration of the activity will require your body to adapt and grow.  Choose fun activities that keep you active for longer periods of time, such as skiing, snowshoeing, indoor cardio, yoga, or swimming. Perhaps you’re working out less often, but the change still forces the body to adapt and grow! Intensity:  If you experience diminished energy or desire to participate in activities, try decreasing the duration of the activity while increasing the intensity.  For …

Week 4 Questions for “Know Thyself 2019”: Disagreement

(This blog is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This week’s question topic: Disagreement As global migration increases, societies become more diverse.  Workplaces bring together equally skilled people who, nonetheless, have highly divergent opinions about all kinds of topics, including social issues, politics, education, culture, sexuality, and ethnicity.  Diversity increases disagreement. It’s ok to disagree with others – you have the right to choose your thoughts!  Holding your tongue when you disagree can make you resentful, feel taken advantage of, or become passive-aggressive. It’s ok to disagree with others but keep your opinion to yourself.  If you don’t know when to pick your battles, you might become frustrated, exhausted, and end up with a bad reputation. This week’s questions are designed to help you understand your reaction to disagreement.  By understanding your reaction, you gain the power to make a conscious choice about how to react in the future. The Questions:  Do you find yourself agreeing with mere opinions (not facts) even when you don’t agree?  …

Week 1 Questions for Know Thyself in 2019: Sleep

(This blog post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019: A Journal Project) S L E E P The question topic might surprise you. Why start a self-knowledge journal asking about something that we’re unconscious for? Two major reasons to figure out your relationship with sleep: Your brain health. Deep thinking and creativity require proper brain function.  If you’re not sleeping well, then your brain isn’t going to function optimally. Your physical health. Your heart, muscles, immune system require adequate sleep.  Stress hormones and insulin resistance increase in response to sleep deprivation. There’s a lot of contradictory advice circulating, such as: Rich and successful people don’t sleep more than 5 hours a night. Human beings need at least 8 hours of sleep. It’s pretty common to be confused about what YOU actually need. Let’s figure it out! Questions: How much sleep do you get on average per night?  (How to know: total how many hours of sleep you’ve gotten in the last 7 nights, and divide that number by 7)  Do you think you get …

How to Live without Shame and Avoid Rationalizing

A few days ago I was discussing justification with a colleague. The previous two blog posts were about Justification (Parts 1 and 2). He suggested a third aspect of justification: excuse-making or rationalization.  This is distinct from the epistemic notions of justification.  A discussion of rationalization justification falls under the categories of pragmatism (human, goal-oriented reasoning) and psychology. What is Rationalization Justification? Rationalization is an excuse-making behavior we resort to if we commit an act that is deemed unacceptable to ourselves or others. After the conscious realization that the behavior was unacceptable, we begin to feel emotionally uncomfortable – guilty, shameful, inferior, unworthy, etc.  The response to those feelings is to “rationalize the situation”. Rationalization is a type of excuse-making that retroactively justifies the behavior that we deemed unacceptable.  It “makes the situation OK”.  By providing justifying reasons for the unacceptable behavior, we are able to re-interpret our behavior to be acceptable.  Rationalization allows us to avoid painful emotions that we would otherwise have felt when looking back at the behavior. I think there are …

Part II of Justification (You haven’t got any!)

In Part one of this two-part post, I reviewed a basic concept of Justification.   In Part two, I’m explaining why you don’t have any (and might not even care!). The Story of the Emperor’s New Clothes A vain emperor hires two weavers who promise him they will make him the best suit of clothes. The weavers are con-men who convince the emperor they are using a fine fabric that is invisible to anyone who is “hopelessly stupid”. The weavers mime the manufacture of the clothes: no one can see them, not the emperor, citizens, or ministers.  However, everyone pretends that they can see the clothes out of fear that others will think they are stupid!  When the weavers announce that the emperor’s new clothes are ready, they help him dress and the emperor parades in a procession in front of all his subjects.  Everyone watches silently and uncomfortably, avoiding speaking the truth that the emperor is naked because they do not want to appear “stupid”.  Finally, a child cries out that the emperor is naked!  The emperor …

Think you’re justified? Read this.

This is a two part post, carrying on with the recent epistemological theme! The goal of part one is to understand what justification is and where it comes from.  Part one will also outline the importance of being able to understand and give reasons you give for your beliefs. Part two will be an analysis of why you don’t really have any justification (and might not even care!). What exactly is justification?  Before we go ahead doubting it, let’s see what it is and what it can do for you! What is Justification? Let’s say your talking with a friend and she says, “Trump won’t win the next election – I know it!”  You ask, “Why do you believe that?” What you’re asking IS NOT: what are the brain’s biological functions that led to your thoughts (in other words, the causal explanation of how the belief came to be) the exact date when she came up with that belief (as in, I have the belief because I did not have the belief before April 12, …

My Favorite Tool to Break Free from Hopelessness and Depression

Today I want to share with you one of the most powerful healing tools I used early on, and still occasionally use, to manage painful emotions such as anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, or emotional “flatness”.  Deep thinkers are often sensitive people, which is why this post is appropriate for a critical thinking blog. Make a List Start by writing a list of some things that would normally make you feel good.  They don’t have to make you feel good now.   But simply list some things that, if you were feeling alright or better, you might enjoy doing.  Don’t make the list too hard.  I suggest having at least one item from each of the following categories of human needs.  Add some that are easier to do than others. Social: Call a family member and ask how their day is. Visit a friend for an hour over coffee.  Visit a forum online. Compliment someone through social media. Physical: Exercise a few minutes.  Try a yoga class.  Take a walk listening to uplifting music. Eat a meal or …

Learn to Ask Better Questions

What is a question? I’m sure you ask questions everyday, but probably don’t have a ready answer for that question. Maybe your first reply is something along the lines of, “it’s a way of getting information from another person when you don’t know something.” That’s only partially correct.  Confused why?  Keep reading: my blog today is about questions, designed to enhance your question asking skills.  Asking the right questions provides advantages: You’ll be a better listener. Listening is an interpersonal skill that is just as important as talking.  A conversation needs two people; it’s not just two people volunteering information and moving the air.  If you can ask a question after someone stops talking, it’s a sign that you were listening and understood what was said. You’ll improve your relationships. This will apply especially to the men in relationships.  Asking questions will both allow you to avoid talking when you don’t want to and make your partner feel loved (Ask me about my day, please!). You’ll know yourself better by engaging your curiosity.  Figuring out what …

Freedom & Curiosity: Rethinking the Strawsonian Pragmatic Argument for Free Will

 A short paper responding the the Strawsonian argument that can be interpreted from Peter Strawson’s paper, “Freedom & Resentment”. In Peter Strawson’s paper entitled “Freedom and Resentment”, the author provides evidence of a pragmatic argument to believe in free will, regardless of whether or not the thesis of determinism is true. Strawson builds a pragmatic argument for free will by explaining the connection between freedom, human psychology, and our humanity. Although I think Strawson provides a plausible pragmatic account of free will, I see a potential problem concerning the natural reactive attitudes he focuses on, especially resentment, which undermines his thesis. First, the natural reactive attitude of resentment that justifies participants’ place in a moral community actually undermines the relationships that Strawson suggests are essential for adult human life; Strawson uses interpersonal relationships as part of his justification for why we should accept the pragmatic argument for free will. Second, self-directed resentment is freedom denying; blaming oneself has psychological effects that undermine the freedom that Strawson wants to guarantee. I will briefly suggest an unlikely …