Tag Archives: Advice

Happiness, depression and coping in general.

How many times have you heard a variation of this?

  • Happiness is a choice.
  • Having an “attitude of gratitude” is something we can foster.
  • You make your reality
  • We can influence the way we [ think | act | feel ]
  • You choose to be positive.

If you are a natural cynic, a sufferer of depression or otherwise jaded with the world then your immediate attitude and response to being told to “choose to be happy” may very well have been the same as mine, namely “go fuck yourself” or some form of derivative invective thereof.

Continue reading Happiness, depression and coping in general.

The “creating your reality” truth and myth

Summary

  • Reality has not, does not, and (perhaps most importantly) will not alter for you.
  • You cannot choose your emotions, but you can choose your perception
  • Your perception alters your view of reality
  • Your view of reality can alter your interaction with it
  • The way you interact with reality determines your experience
  • So, shine.

Continue reading The “creating your reality” truth and myth

Removing the blinkers: Being informed and questioning in the age of information overload

I have always work under the assumption that a well read individual is a better informed individual.

So started a conversation between a contact and myself recently.

Continue reading Removing the blinkers: Being informed and questioning in the age of information overload

the rules for blog entries should be the same as they are for essays

Looking at social media, my previous points in regards to socialisation, conversation and interaction still hold, but I do think that when writing, there should be some rules.

If you want to plan out a post, then think of it as an argumentative essay or scientific paper. There is no word limit, but anything over a thousand words and the TL;DR effect will kick in before anyone scrolls down past the first screen.

So, what’s the first rule? Have a subject and stick to it. You can’t cover everything. Don’t try. So, make your point up front. Whether it is an hypothesis, an outrageous claim, a statement of force or a personal appeal – state it.

Strongly. Clearly. Own it. Sell it.

Make no mistake, it’s on trial. You are its defender. So, make the case. Gather the evidence. Highlight the facts. Don’t fall into the common fallacies of logic.

It’s not going to be easy. It’s a hostile jury. They are jaded and sceptical. They’ve been exposed to so many lies and liars in their lifetime. Their automatic assumption is that you are as well. Get that jury on your side!

Careful though, because you need to make sure you are not self-convinced and find yourself seduced by hubris, pride or your own belief system.

Tear apart your subject. Play the devil’s advocate. Don’t become complacent or self-satisfied. Rip into it as if you’re the opposition.

Examine your reasoning. Why are you correct? Have you considered the opposite view? Where did your ideas and opinions come from? Who benefits from your position? Is it misguided? Look for flaws in your own logic and gaps in your evidence.

Be human about it. Sure, ensure your arguments are logical and support your position clearly, but be ethical. Be honest. Establish your position by being fair to opposing views. Connect to the audience. Bring in the emotional element. Share some empathy. Put a human face on the subject. Give the reader a reason for caring. What’s in it for them? Let them know!

So, now, structure it.

Introduce the topic, build the argument, bridge the audience, and the flow it down into the conclusion. It should be a conclusion, by the way. A conclusion is not just summary of what you’ve already said. It is your closing arguments.

Here’s the hard part though, because your blog should be part of your conversation with your readers, don’t forget to provide a way for your readers to interact with you.

Don’t close it off. Give your readers a reason to comment. Pose a related or follow up question. Seek alternative views, or advice. Engage them. Make them interested in participating with you and your conversation.

How to social media …

I am not an SEO. I’m not a “social media guru” or “twitter famous” or even some kind of start-up or business genius.

What I am, is part of the great unwashed social media consumers. What I am, is sick and tired of the crap that people produce because those “experts” think they get it.

They don’t – and here is why. The social media network has a keyword in there. Social.  It is not the “direct marketing” media network nor the “targeted consumer” media network.

Yet this is exactly what I feel most writers of blogs and branded content see it as. This is part of the reason I decided it was time to put down some guidelines and rules for people who want to utilise social media to promote themselves, their products and their business … especially to those like me.

With so many corporations enforcing social media blocking at the corporate gateway, chances are that the majority of people are going to read content from Social Media sources during non-business hours or during breaks and downtime. Even if they are not limited by corporate governance, it is a good rule of thumb to assume they are. So, ask yourself – why would I read you in my time?

This is a very simple question, but one most authors fail to consider. What are you offering me? What makes you worth giving up my personal time for? Are you offering me anything to help me as a person? As a customer? To do my job?

Your content should be like a store window. It should offer me an unobstructed view of the goodies. .

Here’s a tough pill for many to swallow … It is not about you or your clever ideas.

You need to put the reader first.

Your writing should be clear. It should be conversational. Engaging. Offering the chance of interaction. It shouldn’t be an announcement, not some corporate statement … and never preaching. If you are trying to educate, be persuasive. But never try to write to impress.

Focus on the content.

Readers are there and willingly wanting to feel that they can relate to you and your content. So, don’t keep throwing the branding down every second line. Do not keep trying to work in the latest campaign line or sales push into every message. There are other outlets for that. This is a space and a set of tools for conversations.

That said, know your own voice.

Write how you’d actually talk to your customers and your colleagues. The reality is that you will converse with a great range of people outside of the blog posts or choreographed status messages.

Replies, eMails, forum threads will all become part of the way you interact with the people on the other end of those electrons. It is far easier to be consistent when you are being you, than trying to maintain whatever image you think should be portrayed.

That said, do not drop down to writing like you’re texting a teenager. However, there is no need to be a high brow grammar toff either. It is about engaging content – as long as it is well-crafted, interesting and comprehensible, then your job is done.

Which reminds me, not everyone will like you.

That’s the bad news. Get used to it now. Expect it. Expect “trolls” who will come up from unknown parts and attack you. They will attack you publicly. They will attack you mercilessly. They will leave with no care of the destruction left behind.

The good news is that if you assume that most people are jaded and sceptical then you can write with the aim of combating the naysayers. Yes, even those who refuse to believe even concrete, supported, absolute facts. Maybe even those who refuse to look at anything that in some way are at odds with their own beliefs.

Take into account that whilst you hope that people are coming in and reading your content from top to bottom and devouring every word, the reality is that, at first at least, the best you can expect is that they probably found an individual post through a highly specific search or a shared link and they are simply scanning it to quickly glean whatever information they are after.

Does that mean you should just post two hundred word succinct posts with lots of subheads and links? No.

The more engaging the content, the more accessible you are, the greater the chance that readers will stop and search through more of your content. They’ll read other posts. They may subscribe. They may even search more about your company and follow the content you point to.

Which, if done correctly, are subtle. They should be used, by all means, but don’t force the issue. Don’t do the whole “click here” or “for more information” hammer blow. Write your copy. Go back. Hyperlink actual words and phrases that naturally lend themselves to other content that your readers can use to find out more information.

So, that’s the basics. Go. Become part of the conversation with your customers.

On Life Lessons: End of those Mayan Zombie Apocolypse Days Edition

So, I have had this semi-irregular thing over the last few years where I have tried to capture my ever evolving actions, practices, thinking and the many lessons they provide into a form of determined, eclectic and somewhat sesquipedalian life lessons. Mostly, I write these for me, as a reminder and intellectual anchor. If they prove to be useful to others, then all the better.

So, you know, I keep harking back on my lessons and thinking about them and trying, if needed, to address aspects and be a better, more balanced and (perhaps most importantly) confident person. This, funnily enough, brings me to this new iteration. How would my lessons cope in a walking dead world? Can I keep my humanity? Can I be proud of my actions? Will I still be able to look at myself in the mirror and be proud of who stares back at me?
It’s a difficult question to answer. In an apocalyptic world of extreme Darwinist survivability is there room for improvement? Can we still be civilised? Can we still learn to be better people? Does this hypothetical scenario offer us any insights that are useful today?
I went back and re-read my lessons, and I’m proud to say that most of them would still hold – assuming one wanted to – in a post-apocalyptic world.
The 11 lessons, whilst (admittedly) taking on a far more practical and immediate nature, would still hold in the world of the walking dead:
  1. Actively try and lessen the suffering of others
  2. The power of knowledge is the illumination it brings
  3. Make an effort to know more about the world  today than you knew yesterday
  4. Remember: Work Hard, but Play Harder
  5. Recognise the gold that is in friendship
  6. Breath deep and take courage – express your feelings and share your thoughts
  7. Health brings a freedom you do not realise you possess … until you no longer have it
  8. The promise of an external reward – current, belated or in some eternal afterlife – is no reason to commit an act – good or otherwise
  9. Do well by doing good
  10. Be honest with yourself about how you feel about someone
  11. Have the courage to live a life true to yourself – not the life others expect of you.
The lessons and attitudes I listed in the 8 lessons and Mortality thoughts are, within the context of the apocolypse, more guidelines and ways to deal with the inner turmoil … but may be harder to keep in our sights in such an environment.
But How about being “nice”, “liked” or “popular”?
I don’t think this will matter to the zombies, and the reality is that the group of survivalists you end up with are not going to keep you around because of your charm alone – especially if you are becoming a burden. No one cares if you’re “nice” if you have nothing else to offer.
So I should get all nasty and be”Alpha” focused on ensuring i survive and getting what’s mine?
Sure, as long as you want to do it all yourself, because no matter how useful you might be as an army of one, it will never be enough to make others want you to be anywhere but the front-line. The reality is that people will want you around during the peaceful times as much as the “nice” one around during the conflicts.
Does this mean you need to change yourself? Should you become nicer or nastier? Should you become something others want you to be?
No.
You should be you.
But no one likes extreme aggressiveness – neither the active nor passive variety.
Being nice is nice, but if that’s all you have (or are willing) to offer, then that’s not enough.
The answer? Be someone you are happy to be … and be someone who has something to offer others. In fact, you might find that having something to offer will make you feel wanted.
This is not a bad thing – as long as you don’t allow yourself to be used.
All relationships – platonic or amorous – rely on the seat of trust that rests above the three stool legs of communication, compromise and respect.
You need to offer something to others for them to find value in you as you indeed would seek something of value in them.
Would you accept nothing in exchange for something? Stating that you have the absence of something does not value make.
So, yeah … the 11 lessons still hold. The order may change, and the other lessons will help you focus on the inside and dealing with that, because who you are inside is everything in that it is what makes you do what you do and can help you be who you want to be … now and into the apocalypse.

I’m guilty of it …

Sometimes people say or do things without thinking.

This can be due to a hundred different things … and for a hundred different reasons. It may come from a negative space … or from a positive space … but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t done without thinking.

I do it the most with my Mrs … but with a lot of friends in general, I find.

I jump in with kind words.

I offer a different view, pampering, protection, assistance … “solutions”

I forget that people need to work that out themselves and that they did not ask for any of that …

I need to remember to just listen and acknowledge them.

Only offering anything else after they ask**.

It’s harder to do than say.

Even if you just want everyone to truly happy … maybe we need to let them find the sunshine by walking out of their own fire swamps.

I wrote this on another blog about a week ago, but wanted to put it elsewhere for posterity and to remind myself

**As someone mentioned, “I would feel I wasn’t being there for them if I didn’t and yet most likely it is the wrong thing”.