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10 insights from 100 blogs

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself." – adapted quote from Mahatma Gandhi

Dear readers, welcome to my 100th blog. A huge thank you for you questions, comments, likes, shares and offline conversations that have been prompted by something I have written. Today is a chance to look back and chart some key insights from the journey, the best 5 blogs and what's coming soon.

10 insights from 100 blogs

  1. Fewer and better: I see the same pattern in so many unrelated contexts. Fewer and more trustworthy information sources, fewer and more impactful priorities, fewer and more expertly executed dishes on a menu, fewer and better fitting clothes, fewer and better choices of device (Apple has nailed it with a very narrow range). Are you focusing on fewer and better?

  2. Access your higher self: We often have more than one solution to a problem. Some of those solutions come from our old brain, and it will be rash, self-centred and impulsive. Others come from our new brain. These will be outcome-oriented, considerate and timed. You can sometimes experience the pull of both in your head. Both have their place, but I would guess 90% of the time the new brain will give you a better answer if you can resist acting on your immediate impulses. It is easier to access your new brain when you are well-fed, well-slept, sober and not experiencing stress.

  3. Repetition: Our brain changes when we do something regularly. The actual electrical connections strengthen each time we repeat it. After a while we are almost on autopilot. My friend Khurram, once told me that each time he puts on his trainers, it triggers a routine of actions that only end once he has warmed down. For the effortful part of good habits, try triggers, repetition and routine to put you on autopilot. This is the opposite of being mindful, so for things you want to savour see how you can make each experience different with variety, novelty and surprise.

  4. Frame things properly: How can I frame this to make me less annoyed? When plans change for the worse, we can pity ourselves and spend the event deflated. The way you frame it really matters to how you experience it. The word 'despite' makes all the difference. Rather than 'because it's raining we will have to cancel the barbecue and move inside' (lost opportunity) it could be 'despite the rain we will still spend time together and have some great food' (triumph over adversity). These reframes help you feel less beat up and more triumphant.

  5. We are all being primed: Whether it is news reports, colleagues at work, or going shopping we are all being persuaded. We are given only part of the known information so that we come to the conclusion our source wants us to. Sometimes, priming is good for us - being asked to think about your retirement is more likely to prompt you to save, but too often it is intended to mislead. It comes down to trust - do not expose yourself to sources you do not trust.

  6. Access your happy hormones: Increasingly we hear about the epidemic of unhappiness. There may be many causes, but we do know that many activities cause pleasurable responses in your body. Whether it is setting and reaching goals, spending time with loved ones, helping others, staying active and getting outside these activities are old school - but they work. I hope anyone feeling that way reads my series on happy hormones (cheat sheet below).

  7. Listen: When we are taught to communicate, it is only about what you say and how you say it. I think we miss a key element. We also need to learn how to listen. In our overstimulated world, suspending talking and being receptive to someone else is difficult and feels passive. I disagree. Listening to someone intently, communicates respect (you are important and I can learn something from you) and humility (I don't know everything). That is a powerful message to send to anyone.

  8. Think things through: Politicians and financial pundits reduce complex problems into simple solutions. This oversimplifying leads unintended consequences down the line. We see this when we buy something only because it it cheap, or hire someone just because their salary is low. We also see it in all the mis-selling scandals when employees were put under pressure to meet targets or lured by attractive bonuses. First order thinking avoids the real issues at play, and leaves a problem (often worse than the original) down the line for you to solve. Many developed countries have both huge debt loads and chronic underinvestment due to first order decision-making.

  9. Get it out of your head: Problems seem awful in our heads. They feel so big and complex, that it is overwhelming. You might also feel shame that you have left such a problem for so long or the nature of the problem and it becomes insurmountable. Talking this through with someone will take the sting out of it. Getting it out of your head and into the world, is an essential part of problem-solving. We are seeing a rise of coaches, mentors and mental health professionals because we need to air our concerns and we have fewer interactions with uncles, aunts, priests and other community figures. If you really cannot speak to someone about it, write it down in a journal to help clarify your thoughts.

  10. Get going - the importance of action!: The idea that you should wait to pursue your goals "when you are motivated" is a dream-killer. Everyone has 10mins a day to research, clarify thinking and start reading about their chosen direction. Progress is a great way to build motivation, even more so than the other way round.

5 things we will discuss over the next 100 blogs

  1. Why we need to relearn how to debate important issues and think more critically.

  2. What is the big picture impact of AI, and where might it go?

  3. Understanding storytelling

  4. How wisdom and morals help people

  5. The limits to our democracy and how we can make our democracy more healthy.

5 of my most commented on blogs

Thank you for joining. Next week "How to switch off". Sign up to the subscription list on Blog | Deciders ( Follow me on twitter: @Decidersblog 


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