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Self-Help/Life Coaching

WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING?

Written by Joanne Reed

Critical thinking means many things, but at heart, it is a search for the truth. Critical thinking helps us determine what is real and what it is not. But before we are able to exercise our cognitive ability to think critically, we need to have a certain base of knowledge as a starting point.

Thinking is part of what makes us human. What differentiates humans from animals is our cognitive abilities such as fully developed language, reasoning capabilities, and the ability to make plans for the future. We are all born with the capacity to think, but not everyone is capable of critical thinking, and it is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced with discipline.

Socrates is credited for being the first critical thinker and the Socratic method is one of the earliest critical thinking instructions tools known to man. The Socratic method is described as a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius was also a fan of critical thinking, often warning that “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact; everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

I think therefore I am “

— Rene Descartes

Critical thinking means many things, but at heart, it is a search for the truth. Critical thinking helps us determine what is real and what it is not. But before we are able to exercise our cognitive ability to think critically, we need to have a certain base of knowledge as a starting point. We can only think critically about things about which we have knowledge of, and we won’t have the structures in place to think deeply if we haven’t spent time mastering a body of knowledge related to that thinking.

Critical thinking can be understood as a deep activity, one that requires the development of new habits of mind. It is not something that comes to us naturally, it requires extensive study and practice. When we have our critical thinking hat on we develop our problem-solving capabilities and our ability to look at the strengths and weaknesses of an argument; the result is that we are more able to see things clearly and this can help us make better decisions.

Is critical thinking a skill?

We all like to think of ourselves as rational, strategic creatures, but in reality, humans are deeply irrational and are often governed by emotion rather than logic. Moreover, we have a tendency to operate within our own echo chamber, where the only information that goes through our brain is information that validates our prior knowledge, vindicates our prior decisions, or sustains our existing beliefs.  We should get into the habit from time to time of walking down the road less traveled, the one taken by critical thinkers. If you decide to walk down that road it will require that you possess a certain fluidity of mind,  some discipline and be driven by the will to get to the truth of the matter rather than the urge to be righteous no matter what.

Critical thinking includes a complex combination of skills

RationalityWe are thinking critically when we rely on reason rather than emotion, when we follow evidence, when we are more concerned with finding the best explanation rather than being right, and when we get into a habit of asking questions.

Self-AwarenessWe are thinking critically when we recognize that we suffer from emotional impulses, selfish motives, nefarious purposes, and other modes of self-deception.

Open-mindedness.We are thinking critically when we evaluate all reasonable inferences, consider a variety of possible viewpoints or perspectives, remain open to alternative interpretations, accept new explanations, models or paradigms, because it explains the evidence better, is simpler, or has fewer inconsistencies. We cannot reject opinions just because they are unpopular.

Discipline.We are thinking critically when we are precise, meticulous, comprehensive, exhaustive, resist manipulation and irrational appeals, and avoid snap judgments.

Judgment.We are thinking critically when we recognize the relevance and/or merit of alternative assumptions and perspectives and recognize the extent and weight of evidence.

Critical thinkers are skeptical by nature. They are active and not passive. They ask questions and analyze facts and data. They consistently apply tactics and strategies to uncover meaning or assure their understanding. Critical thinkers are open to new ideas and perspectives. They are willing to challenge their beliefs and investigate competing evidence.

By contrast, passive, non-critical thinkers take a simplistic view of the world. They see things in black and white, as either or, rather than recognizing a variety of possible understandings. They see questions as yes or no with no subtleties. They fail to see linkages and complexities. They fail to recognize related elements. They take their facts as the only relevant ones. They take their perspectives as the only sensible one. They consider their goal as the only valid one.

Is critical thinking important?

We are living in a world of information overload, data about almost everything is available to all who wish to access it at the click of a button. We are constantly bombarded by a steady stream of information (sometimes misinformation, exaggerations and mischaracterizations) about a whole range of subject matters, making it very difficult to know what and who to believe. Critical thinking is important because we need this skill in order to navigate our way through all the information, mis-information and dis-information that is being served to us on a daily basis on all media platforms.

Trying to nail down the authenticity of anything and verify our knowledge about the world is a tall order. We are huge consumers of all types of media, but often lack the tools to think about how and why we are passively consuming what we watch, read and share. We are inundated with news. How can one discern between the real news and the fake news? We are often not thinking about how our own biases affect how we think about the world. We are also getting comfortable in our echo chambers, devoid of people and ideas who challenge our own beliefs.

We expect Facebook, Instagram TikTok, Twitter and Google to filter the truth for us, rather than putting in the hard work to do some thinking for ourselves. Some social media posts go viral in minutes after they are posted whether they carry with them the truth or an exaggeration of the truth or total falsehood. There is always the option of fact-checking some of the information via some sites such as Factcheck.org or Snopes‘ Website. The problem is that if the counter-information is not shared in the same manner of the viral post the damage from the false post cannot be counteracted.

There is a scientific term for this in psychology, it is called the Illusory Truth Effect also known as the Reiteration Effect, it is the tendency to believe information to be correct (even if it is not) after repeated exposure to that same information. Repeated affirmation fixes itself in the mind in such a way that it is accepted in the end as a demonstrated truth. Many studies have been conducted on this, and the conclusion is that familiarity overcomes rationality, the truth does not matter. Repetition does!

We need critical thinkers more than ever. The sheer complexity of the world demands that people are able to think about it in critical ways. Understanding our thinking process is important because we continue to believe in a lot of things that just aren’t true. Pre-existing beliefs and emotions powerfully shape our ideas and thoughts. We all have biases, but we should examine them and understand them better.

The other tendency is to relinquish your power to think critically on someone else and rely on the opinion of the experts instead. We rely on a daily basis on the expert opinion of a whole raft of people who are specialized in a particular field and who are being paid to share their knowledge, wisdom and experience with the world at large.  If you want to build a house, you instruct an architect to draw the plan of the house for you and you instruct a builder to build it according to the specifications. Once your house is built, you may want to have your garden landscaped; so, you ask a gardener to do this for you. If you ask the gardener to build your house for you, you may end up with a house that is defective and not fit for purpose. That is why society needs experts; society needs people who know a thing or two about their own areas of expertise and know what they are talking about.

Even experts can be wrong

This said, whenever you decide to ask an expert for his advice on a particular matter, I suggest that you put on your critical thinking hat to ensure that you fully understand the advice you are being given, the scope and limitations of the adviser’s expertise, his or her ability to see the problem in its proper context, the possibility that the  expert may be subject to bias, and in the worst case scenario, the possibility that the expert may be wrong.

History is full of anecdotes showing that even the experts can be wrong.

  • In 1876, senior executives at Western Union made the following statement: “this telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. It is inherently of no value.” In early 2017, Apple announced that it has sold 216 million iPhone
  • In 1895, Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society of Science, argued that “heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. The Wright Brothers built one anyway. Boing has built 10,000 of them since.
  • In 1943, Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM observed “I think that there is a world market for maybe 5 computers”.  A recent survey conducted in 2019 show that there are 4.39 billion internet users worldwide.
  • In 1946, Darryl Zanuck, the founder of 20th Century Movie Studio and winner of 3 Academy Awards noted that “Television won’t last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” Today, over 2 billion hours of TV is watched in the USA alone each day.
  • In 1968, Time Magazine made the observation that “online shopping while entirely feasible, will flop.” In 2019, worldwide online shopping reached nearly $3.7 trillion.
  • In 1969, Margaret Thatcher told a listening audience that “it will be years – not in my lifetime before a woman becomes Prime Minister.” 10years later she would prove her own prediction wrong by winning the 1979 UK general election and staying in power for 11 years.

No one, including experts, really know with absolute certainty what will happen in the future. Every time there is a national disaster, a gigantic event, a pandemic, we can rely on television news to find an expert to come on TV and generously share his predictions and knowledge on why this happened and what will happen next. The truth of the matter is that sometimes those experts are wrong.

Philip Tedlock wrote a book in 2005 about expert predictions called Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is it? How Can We know? In this book, he explains that not only experts are sometimes wrong, but they are nearly never called out on it.

Tedlock explains that when experts are wrong, they are rarely held accountable, and they rarely admit it, either. They insist that they were just off on timing or blindsided by an improbable event. They have the same repertoire of self-justification that everyone has and are not more inclined than anyone else to revise their beliefs about the way the world works or ought to work, just because they made a mistake.

Tedlock explains that experts fall into 2 categories: foxes and hedgehogs. The fox — the thinker who knows many little things, draws from an eclectic array of traditions, and is better able to improvise in response to changing events — is more successful in predicting the future than the hedgehog, who knows one big thing, toils devotedly within one tradition, and imposes formulaic solutions on ill-defined problems.

Foxes and hedgehogs

Foxes know many things while hedgehogs know only one. Being deeply knowledgeable on one subject narrows one’s focus and increases confidence, but it also blurs dissenting views until they are no longer visible, therefore transforming data collection into bias confirmation and morphing self-deception into self-assurance. The world is a messy, complex, and contingent place with countless intervening variables and confounding factors, which foxes are comfortable with, but hedgehogs are not.

Thinkers who know one big thing often display brisk impatience with those who don’t get it and display considerable confidence in their ability, with no time for dissenting opinions. By contrast those who know many small things are skeptical of grand schemes; they are flexible, curious, open-minded.

So, is critical thinking important? It is more than important, it is vital. Without critical thinking you will be another sheeple lost in the crowd and dutifully following the trend of the moment and absorbing the world’s accepted view. Critical thinking is a skill that should be nurtured and valued. The world needs critical thinkers more than ever. The ability to think about things in a critical way will make a difference to you and the people around you. 

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Self-Help/Life Coaching

I WON’T SAY ANYTHING NEW

Written by Licia Simoes

Are you looking for some motivational reading? Something quite similar to “Change your physical and mental health in only five minutes,” then you have bluffed yourself. I suggest that you need counseling.  

Considering the physical health of individuals, maybe you have already experienced some back strain or knee pain, or most probably, somewhere in your body is hurting right now. And you want to get rid of that pain in the fastest way possible. Have you ever thought the movement can be an ideal solution? Does that sound easy for you? I don’t think so. Because in a world held under the motto—”I should have done that yesterday,” would lead us to absorb negativity, and still, spending one hour, three times per week, seems a waste of time. Trust me; that is the most popular excuse which I ever heard of, and if I provide a solution for that, there will be more consequences to come henceforth. Specifically, I would never appreciate an excuse because an excuse is when you say to your aunt if you don’t want to go to the family dinner.  

Considering excuses, it detailed my mind to describe how our ancestors had actively occupied with hunting and gathering. They were too busy to expect a break for them to rest. Though they continually searched for anything to accumulate by using their energy, therefore, they had been fit and healthy. The most exciting fact is that they used to chase animals until it gets exhausted before the final hunt. That had caused them to increase an immense amount of good health. But nowadays, as a part of human evolution, we as the fully matured humans take evolutionary reasons to be lazy. Evolutionary reasons: we became more advanced in lifestyle, we don’t need to go hunting or gathering because we got home delivery services, we have a house and a bed to sleep with paid rent and bills, we don’t need to run because we have public and private transportation, we don’t have to walk because we have hoverboards. So, we use those evolutionary reasons as an excuse to become that lazy bed-warmer, who eats junk-food laying on a sofa watching TV 24/7. 

As always, we only take a step forward when we need some urgent and immediate change in our life. But the bad news is: physical exercise cannot compare to taking a magical pill you only need to swallow once in a lifetime. It’s a routine that you need to bring throughout your entire life. So, let’s reschedule your daily agenda by giving priority to your physical activity in the same way you take time to brush your teeth. I am positive that your body and mind will sincerely appreciate yourself when you start to take care of it like other primary wants and needs in your life. 

The most important and factual bits of facts are that physical activity will enable you to jump without fearing a knee pain, you will be able to run along to the bus while not having any tiredness, you will get out of a chair actively, and you do not need to stop the movement because of some low back pain. Physical health and moral strength benefits are endless.  

Isn’t it the marvelous thing to own a healthy heart along with a positive mind? So, let’s take the first step: book an appointment with a personal trainer or a Pilates instructor, then join a gymnasium where you can sign up for swimming or martial arts classes. The essential advantage is in taking a step further. 

Though you might feel embarrassed in your first class, or you probably think hundreds of times, “I want to quit because I was never born to this.” However, physical exercise is the change that comes with baby steps, not as a miracle. Gradually, you will start feeling little differences in your body during your daily life. The table will no longer be heavy, and you will finally touch the floor without bending your knees. 

Remember, physical mindfulness is something that you must keep in your daily routine for your whole life, and I can assure you: you will hesitate to give up or miss a session with your personal-trainer. So, your life will become easy and pleasurable for you to experience the best.

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Law Self-Help/Life Coaching

POLYGAMY: IMPACT ON THE AFRICAN SOCIETY

Written by Francis Nwordu

In Africa, the practice of polygamy strives because most Africans believe that a man is supposed to have more than one wife under his control, in order to show that he is more superior than women in the society. It impacts negatively on society and creates poverty in the system.

Polygamy is one practice that has been embraced by many parts of the world in the present and past day social system. Emily Yoffe suggests, it is a way-of-life that enjoys an age-long history, and it accepted in different parts of the world according to the cultural variations. This way-of-life has occurred in African society when one man marries more than one woman. The practice of polygamy is quite pronounced in African cultures and accepted, while several social groups are refusing its ideology. The custom theory of the idea has been a traditional concept. In fact, polygamy is one of the practices that popularly observes as a common focus in the society of Africa. This very integral part of the African tradition or norm, only transformed to a large extent when some African cultures embraced Christianity as a result of copying Western culture in some situations. According to scielo.org citing, Kyomo and Selvan (2004:35) suggest that polygamy as an issue has been the preoccupation among African theologians and scholars, right from the 1960s, and it is still a relevant argument till to date.

In Africa, the practice of polygamy strives because most Africans believe that a man is supposed to have more than one wife under his control in order to show that he is more superior than women in the society. Usually, African culture influences many emphases on the fact that men are strong enough and capable of taking care of a large number of women.

Before Islam and Christianity arrived in Africa, the country had a religion that was popular and known in the conventional world as the African Traditional Religion (ATR). This religion recognizes polygamy as an acceptable practice among its adherents. Islam is one of the first foreign religions established in African society, especially in the Northern part of the continent. The polygamy as an aspect of religion made it far too easy for most Africans to accept the beliefs of Islam. With the rise of Christianity, many years later, Islam religion had been rooting in some African societies, as a result of trade and other activities. Thus, it caused to change people’s viewpoints about polygamy as a custom. Most Africans had to decide between continuing with the practice of marrying more than one woman as a way of life or accepting the dictates and the tenets of the new religion that came along with westernization. However, people will still agree that polygamy as a way-of-life in Africa, and it will always be a norm because many African societies, especially the rural settlements among them, still have strong adherents of the African Traditional Religion (ATR). As a way-of-life, certain benefits have derived from the practice of one man having to live or get married to more than one woman. When a man decides to have more than one wife, he enjoys the company of his wives and the members of the family to a certain extent. Another gain that can derive from having more than one wife in a marriage tradition is that there may be an increase in both human and material resources for the family, in time to come. This is possible because where you have so many people as members of a given family, there is a likelihood of having an abundance of both human and material resources.

Polygamy also has its pitfalls. Elbert Hubbard was a popular American writer who lived from 1856 to 1915 described in his words that “Polygamy is an endeavor to get more out of life there is in it.” This quest of man to get more from life comes with some consequences. 

Overpopulation is one of the most notable disadvantages of polygamy. It can arise as one of the consequences of having numerous wives. This is guaranteed to happen since every woman who is married to a man desires to have her own kids in order to be counted as a mother in society and be respected by all people. Another unfavorable effect of polygamy is that it may lead a man to poverty if the man is not capable of handling the financial pressure and challenges that come along in keeping a large family. Most households in Africa cannot afford three square meals a day as a result of tough economic situations or poor system conditions.

Most Africans need better orientation on why polygamy has to be controlled as a practice if the consequences have an impact on various African societies. The general public has to gain appropriate education regarding the dangers of having more than one wife and how it can be abusive to them and society. The governments of various African countries should intensify the effort to be aimed at controlling or checkmating the consequences of practicing polygamy, as in such,

  • Put adequate measures to curb or control the rate at which men go about marrying more wives than they can be able to afford and handle. 
  • Set up an agency that will be in charge of informing people and educating them on the need to maintain a small family based on their financial capacity. 
  • Create employment opportunities to enable people to engage in gainful ventures and be employed.

Apart from government involvement, religious bodies of a country must also play a significant role in curbing the negative impact of polygamy. Although they must counsel men in the society of how having one wife and a small family can allow them to ease their social depression. It will help both the man and all the members of his family to live a happy life. When a man is able to manage or succeed in taking care of his wife and his children, society, in general, will be prosperous and stable. And also, educational institutions and other organizations must consider this issue to overcome the negative results of polygamy.

In a nutshell, we can say that since polygamy has always been a regular practice in various African societies, any individuals that do not have resources to take care of a large family must follow up with thorough advice against going into it. The authorities in charge of states, religious bodies, and other organizations must play active roles in managing the impact on African society in a responsible procedure.

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Self-Help/Life Coaching

THE OTHER HALF OF EDUCATION

Written by Sherelee Rathnarajah

They say education is the key to success. However, only half of this key is readily available to children. So, where is the other half? It is within us. This article explores what these missing elements are and how to tap them out of our children for the greater good of the world.

Let me begin with a phrase that is being overused without much regard to its crucial meaning. EDUCATION SHOULD NOT BE LIMITED TO BOOKS. I will never get tired of repeating this statement, since I have long understood its core meaning. Compare one doctor who operates people for organ trafficking to another who operates tirelessly to save a dying girl. They are both skilled, of course, yet there is a fundamental difference; one of these doctors has received only half the education. I am sure it is obvious which doctor it is. Filling your mind with useful information, understanding it and repeating all of it on paper or replicating it practically or taking that information to more advanced heights is only part of the equation. The other part remains in the fact that a child is strengthened with essential values. These values provide a strong foundation which is conducive in nurturing an ethical child who is ready to internalize and use knowledge for a good cause. So what are these values? Let’s find out.

Self-respect

You cannot give others what you do not have yourself. Imagine it is one of those days that there is a water-cut in your area. Suddenly a thirsty man comes to you and asks for water. Can you offer him water? No. Why? Because you do not have it in the first place. It is the same logic that applies here. If you want your children to respect you and everyone else, first they need to learn to respect themselves. The first step is to change the manner in which a child speaks to herself. Remember that mind voice that calls us ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid’ or something even worse when we make an error? Children have it too. Teach children to train their mind voices to become kinder, more positive and more motivating. Teach them to tell themselves, ‘Hey, I did something wrong, let’s not repeat it the next time.’ The next step is to create a sense of accountability. Imagine a child promises to wake up at 6.00am in the morning. Then, teach her that she will put herself down if she does not stick to her plan. Teach her that putting herself down will make her lose the respect she has towards herself. Self –respect will teach a child to look at herself from an imaginary mirror. She will learn to stand in front of that mirror and talk to her reflection kindly and encouragingly to be accountable to herself.

Respect towards others

I think our children are taught the wrong concept of respect. If you ask a child what respect is, she would not be able to formulate an answer at most times. However, if you do ask a child as to who she should respect she will answer with something along the lines of parents, teachers, the clergy, one’s country or one’s flag. Do you notice how all these answers show that respect is directly proportional to authoritative power? The more powerful the person, the more respect that person deserves. This notion is the reason why most manual workers are either physically or verbally abused by their customers and employers. People are not taught to give respect down the hierarchy. Our children are taught to respect out of fear; not out of will. The right concept of respect is easier to teach when children are made to understand that everyone else is just as equal as they are. Children need to understand that it is not right to put another person down just as much as it is wrong to put themselves down. Children need to learn to vocalize their mind voices to spread positivity, kindness and motivation to everyone, regardless of their status. Remember that mirror? Now the child also learns to see another person in that reflection to whom she is kind and holds accountability to.

Empathy

If a child learns to respect another person in the correct manner, she will automatically learn to empathize. The concept of ‘being in another person’s shoes’ cannot be grasped easily without seeing another person as one’s equivalent. This idea can be made digestible to children by allowing them to look after siblings or by simply letting them have a pet. This allows parents to use the phrase, ‘How would you feel if your brother did the same to you?’ This question in itself is sufficient to create an empathetic thought pattern in a child. She will always stop to think, ‘What if it was me?’ If you ask an only child for help, she will find it harder to offer that help when compared to a child who has grown up with siblings. We cannot blame her, since she clearly does not have the mechanisms to easily cater to another person’s feelings. This is why schools have resorted to conducting group-activities as a part of learning. These activities bring out the basic tools of empathy: diplomacy, the need to listen, control of one’s emotions and giving equal priority to everyone’s ideas inclusive of yours. Empathy is that mirror through which the child reflects upon another.

Consent

Speak to your child about your likes and dislikes. Explain to her which of her actions make you happy and which do not. Do not forget to make this a two-way conversation. Ask her what makes her happy or sad. Let her be comfortable about speaking up her mind. Once a child learns that her opinions and feelings matter just as yours, she is not afraid to vocalize them. She starts to subconsciously normalize this habit with outsiders as well. She understands that she has all the right to give or reserve her consent as she wishes. She will learn to distance from anyone who intimidates her by saying a simple ‘no’. Make sure she knows she has your full support in this. A child who grows in this manner will not only learn to stand for her consent, but also for another’s consent. She will go out into the world having and acting upon a strong sense of consent rather than becoming an easy prey to unjust and abusive people.

Trust

Did you notice that respect, empathy and consent can be given? How about trust? Can trust be given? Can trust even be taken? I suppose neither is possible. Trust can only be built and building takes time. Once built, trust also must be protected. Building trust happens in a sequence of events. First you meet a person; you decide if they are likeable. If you like the person you start to maintain continuous communication with him/her. At first you talk about surface matters such as professions and likes and dislikes; then you discuss ideologies on politics and maybe religion; later on you may exchange more private information in the scope of background, family and friends; finally it would the extremely personal matters such as your struggles or important experiences – things that you would wish to tell no one else. You went through each of those steps after sufficiently assessing the person’s actions and reactions to what you had to say. With each assessment your trust is built. Then comes the challenge of protecting what you have built. You expect the other person to not use your disclosures as weapons against you. Rather, you expect the other person to accept you as you are and be someone who you could rely on now that he/she saw you at your most vulnerable. Allow your children to experiment these steps with you and trustworthy family members until they reach a significant age. Once they have gone through the loop, they would have a ready-made set of instructions on how to trust a person.

Being sensible

Make your child aware of the cause and effect cycle. Teach her to be patient enough to think before she takes her next step. You see, the world has become a haze of rapidity with all the easy access technology has provided us with. Our minds, unfortunately, have adopted this speed to our thought processes as well. As a result, we do not want to go through the long and painstaking affair of patiently taking the time to think of the consequences if a certain decision is made. Instead, we give priority to the first thought that pops up in our mind and act upon it just to feed our brain’s hunger of speed. Now think of your child who was born right in the middle of this era of technological explosion. She has no idea about an alternative thinking pattern other than what she was born into. Imagine the number of wrong decisions she would make throughout her life if you leave this situation unchecked. It is scary, indeed. Show your child the beauty of questioning. Let her be amazed by the answers that are revealed. Make her work with puzzles that take her time and patience while making her contemplate on what could happen if she fits a certain piece at a certain place. Let her finish the puzzle and let her be amazed at what she had created out of patience and questions. She will surely make it a lesson for life.

Self-esteem

You must be aware of how society idealizes genders. A man needs to be of a certain height and build and within a certain level of income to be accepted. A woman needs to be of an ideal body type with a certain disposition to be considered attractive. Now take into account a child’s mind which is being bombarded with these idealized images day in and day out, thanks to social media. We know in reality that this man and woman are misconceptions of what the general population really is. However, for your child these images are her reality, since that is what she has been seeing all her life. She wants to be that idealized image. If she turns out to be anything different from these images (which is the case 95% of the time) she would start to view herself as an abnormal person. The TV says she should look like this model. Her friends confirm that the TV is right. She looks at herself and notices she is not anything like that model and finally her self – esteem reaches a low deeper than the Mariana Trench. Eventually, she starts to seek attention and validation to soothe her burnt ego. It is a vicious cycle, which must be broken. Please, please, please tell your child that she is beautiful just the way she is. Show her real people with real bodies. Show her that everyone has flaws.  Teach her to groom herself to bring out the best features in her. More importantly, teach her how to be beautiful from the inside too.  Do not let her seek validation elsewhere, since today you forgot to tell her she is beautiful and unique. A child with self-esteem is a gem to have.

Let me repeat. EDUCATION SHOULD NOT BE LIMITED TO BOOKS. I am sure this does not sound a mere, bland utterance anymore. It is your child’s right to be nurtured into a blossoming individual. It is your right to be an important part of that process. Take the first step to this beautiful journey today. At first, you will be lost. Your patience would run dry. You would be angered by your underperformance. You literally will have to be a changed person. I assure you it will not be a leisurely walk in the park. Yet it would be for a worthy cause. Do not miss out on the other half of your child’s education. Best of luck!

https://www.parentingscience.com/teaching-empathy-tips.html

Coleman, P. (2019, July 9). How to teach young kids about consent. Retrieved from 

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Self-Help/Life Coaching

THE CURSE OF INSTANT GRATIFICATION

Written by Sherelee Rathnarajah Crawford

Approximately twenty years ago, the topic of this post made zero sense to anyone whoever interested in reading it. Also, I am sure; those days, probably, I had been spending much of my time rolling in the dirt rather than typing away at a computer. Anyhow, twenty years later today, what I referred to as “instant gratification” is a forage, and you and I are its prey. Let me take the lead by defining this phenomenon. Instant gratification is the hunger to experience pleasure or fulfillment without delay or deferment. Generally, it is when you want something, and you want it immediately. You might wonder what would be the possible danger in wanting positive karma on faster wheels. Let me analyze this further.

Social Media thrust: It all started in the early 2000s when MySpace was the first form of modern social media that reached a million active users in a month. If I had to describe “MySpace” to the younger audiences: It was a site that allowed users to customize the layout of their profile page from color and background images to the way the page was structured. And it offers an option to insert content hosted on other sites such as YouTube. Also, it allowed users to interact with friends and non-friends alike, which means you had instant access to people as well as their approval or disapproval over your content. Now, just fast forward through those two decades and think about the number of social media platforms that have created with more or less the same features refurbished off MySpace. We have got ourselves hooked on almost all these platforms feeding our brains with instant gratification. 

Imagine, you post a picture, and the likes and hearts start popping in a matter of minutes (depending on your above-average look within a short period). Your lips sync to the song in your TikTok video gets so many instant views and likes that you end up believing you are a celebrity. It causes you to spark with temporary gratification. What do you think is the motive behind your favorite YouTuber? Why would they frequently remind you to like their videos and subscribe to their channel? It’s because they receive their much-needed dopamine-high in addition to the monetization when their channel increases the number of viewers. Now, let me explain the first-hand experience that I had to encounter from my end. The book I am writing these days was supposed to be simultaneous with my blog posts. However, I have postponed writing the book because my brain yearns for the instant gratification induced by the number of views my posts garner. 

The reference to my manuscript brings you to another vastly important topic, which I can confine as delayed gratification. Delayed gratification or deferred gratification describes the process that the brain undergoes when it resists the temptation of an immediate reward in preference for a later requite. Even though I am putting effort into writing my book, it will take a painstakingly long time with no quick mood fixes. And I might spend the next two to three months questioning myself if the reward is worth the wait or should I ultimately give up. Sometimes, despite the nature of my efforts, instant gratification will leave me with this ever-present impatience for good results. 

The alteration of the dopamine level: The surges of dopamine are short-lived, which means you come back to feeling less-gratified just as fast as you reached maximum gratification. Hence, these results continue in you to engaging in less relevant tasks to keep your instant and short-lived happy moods coming at a steady level. Once your brain is comfortable on this sort of a high, it becomes reluctant to perform tasks that give you delayed gratification; then, it eventually creates a loop of action-reward-pattern that slowly takes command over all areas of your life. Therefore, 

  • You expect instant and positive replies from your partner via text messages. 
  • You want your teacher to quickly grade that paper that you know you had answered so well. 
  • You want your goods delivered in one day through e-bay and expect it to be the same replica of the photoshopped version you saw online. 
  • You expect your doctor to prescribe fast-working medication for a broken leg that usually takes three months to heal. 
  • Your whole life becomes an explosion of snappy rewards.

However, the real danger arises when you face critical decisions in life that need time. Most importantly, patience brings you delayed gratification such as, 

  • You cannot spend time studying the nature of your suitors since your brain wants the instant gratification of getting into a relationship. 
  • You cannot spend time on a four-year course to upgrade skills when you can quickly fame out by becoming a TikTok star, who does not need an education. 
  • You cannot wait five years for the business of your dreams to take off and bring you an income.

So, you succumb to whichever means of income that boost your dopamine hunger. And also, you refuse to wait through the process to get your hands on the results. Therefore, the above points are suitable information to define the curse of instant gratification. 

Solution: How do we escape this curse? I do not think we ever can. The human race is already well-bound in its chains. However, we do have a choice in as to what extent we are going to allow it to control us. I feel that self-control should be one concept that needs to be drilled deep in our minds when it comes to using social media platforms. We need to train ourselves to consciously unplug once in a while to let our brains to rewire itself to return to its natural state of accepting delayed gratification. It will be quite a feat for our generation. However, we must concern regarding this matter for the coming generations. We must prove to them the impact of our trouble. Then, they will have very adept role-models who will teach them the skills to cope with this curse.

Let’s start today by switching to crave for “Delayed Gratification.” My solution lies in starting that life-sucking excruciating book. Where does your solution lie?

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Categories
Self-Help/Life Coaching

SRI LANKAN VIRGINITY IN 21’ST CENTURY

Written by Eleena Mendis

Have you ever felt the frustration of being locked up in a room forever? Compression of culture and society can make it extremely hard. Being a woman isn’t a choice, being a virgin is a choice on your own but it takes a lot more effort to become a real human. 

The Pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a fascinating multicultural country with great biodiversity. It has a long history which is “great enough,” that we still talk about it so proudly. The Sri Lankan society holds a common culture of celebrating the attainment of puberty. Young girls are welcome to womanhood with grand festivals and ceremonies. These young girls go through a lot of rituals before they are welcome to the world amidst celebrations. They do have meanings and values hidden behind. However, not many are aware of these hidden aspects simply because they failed to think or to question from the previous generations. In contrast, they are careful enough not to forget to pass these rituals to the next generation. Failing to question, understand the true meaning, or to think the logic behind these actions is the bitter truth, but embracing the culture beyond limitations is a great quality I see in these people. However, it is amazing to see how these wonderful rituals are performed with great value and respect.

From this day onwards, a girl is being protected by her parents and the family is to make sure that she is a virgin till her marriage. This is the culture that has been created over the long years of this great history. It seemed all perfect until it created a lot of misconceptions in today’s Sri Lankan society.

Primarily I see a lot of young girls suffering or not enjoying their life due to tough parenting systems adopted by the whole idea created around virginity. When boys are allowed to go out with friends or do whatever they want to enjoy life and experience it on their own, girls often have to stay back at home or to be with their parents which seems completely unfair. There are so many strict rules on how girls should behave and dress. The pressure put on girls isn’t equal to boys. Girls are always taught and said to do the household work while boys are mostly free from it. This has been accepted as well as practiced by so many generations due to the mentality created by the culture. This is where gender discrimination starts. This is where gender roles are defined. This is where girls’ life deprivations begin. What I think is we need to create a culture where both girls and boys can enjoy and experience life safely, we need to create a culture that everyone loves and cares for each other. We need to reconstruct the idea of gender roles and create human roles instead. We need to teach both girls and boys how to perform basic skills of living. 

Secondly, I see no good sex education is provided or is even given enough attention to. Culture tries to avoid certain things without providing enough awareness. Also, sometimes culture pretends as if certain things aren’t true. This is where the real problem lies and the conflict between culture and the reality generates. What is important is to recreate a culture which provides the necessary knowledge and eliminates the untrue or illogical things. Culture should always be compatible with reality. People try to put more weight on passing down unquestioned or maybe even outdated rituals rather than providing the proper knowledge on hygiene, safety and sex. Sadly, talking about menstruation or sex as a topic openly with parents or adults is extremely forbidden. The tragedy is that discussion of contraception is taboo even though this should be one of the top-prioritized topics.

For young girls, this society would be too tough and too patriarchal but the truth is they are going to break the rules either on purpose or unintentionally. Unluckily this is going to create a lot of social issues such as unwanted pregnancies, mental and physical abuses and sexually transmitted diseases when they try things out of curiosity, while they lack knowledge. A tough and patriarchal society which hides the truth, won’t help this problem unless we create a safe environment with a lot of awareness. We live in a society where people are too ignorant to realize that sex is a primary physical and psychological need of a human but too wise to assume that the virginity of a woman is a primary requirement to get married. The weight put on a boy to remain a virgin till marriage is zero yet the weight put on a boy to get married to a virgin is hundred. Culture has a huge impact on society and societal forces are mostly driven by culture. It mostly works as an invisible drive. Socially we have created this imbalance with the influence of some misleading and illogical facts and practices that have been passed through generations. How do we balance this hypocrisy created by the interconnection between culture and society?

The hymen is something physical and can be broken due to sexual intercourse but virginity is a social construct that is being misused for ages. How does society give more value and power to virginity over humanity? Aren’t we supposed to look at this problem logically? Isn’t it the time to bring solutions to the wrong practices and all the misbeliefs?

Recently I came across some advertisements that hit me somewhere in between my heart and the brain. It was related to regaining lost virginity, also known as repairing the hymen. The captions they used were truly disgusting. “Afraid of getting married due to past issues?”, “Fear of marriage” such titles define clearly the society that we belong to. Encouraging such thoughts and enabling people to create new patterns of a dead culture is a tactic employing trauma. “Make it fragile once again” and “Restore your innocence”, such captions are extreme levels of misusing social norms. This whole idea sounds irrational to me because it keeps misleading society to understand a very untrue idea of virginity. It gives you the right to superficially fake the world. It is a form of misguiding yourself as well as one another. Why can’t we accept each other as we are? This is all because of the pressure put on the social construct of virginity. Why has it only become a feminine topic when it is supposed to be just common to both males and females? Why can’t this culture be honest and real rather than trying to be deceptively ethical? The captions such as “Were you cheated on?” and “Are you a rape victim?” are extreme levels of criticism. It reveals the sexual injustice we are facing today. Targeting rape victims sounds so poor because only regaining virginity does not fix the problem. It seems like they encourage rapists by offering solutions to the victims. Is that how we bring justice to the rape victims? What should we do about their lost personality and lost mental health? How do we exactly repay for the hurt? They matter and affect victims on a higher level.

It is hilarious to see when capitalism takes over society through businesses that affect their societal and cultural forces. The way they influence society matters. When they are supposed to bring solutions to the existing problems of a society where they call it a market, what they actually do is the exact opposite. They try to take advantage of every single misconception or any common weak points of the culture. When the profit is the only bottom line, businesses try to sell all the misbeliefs, and wrong thoughts if we are happy to welcome it. This creates so much of a crisis within society and it will never bring equality to the marginalized majority.

After all, we need to understand the contradiction between culture, reality, virginity, and humanity. Chimamanda Adiche mentioned, “Culture doesn’t make people, people make culture.” People like to believe that culture is the source that makes us special. They believe that it has the power to create purity. But the reality is, culture is completely a concept created by people. So, we need to make a culture that goes along with reality. Most importantly we need to know, just being a virgin does not make you a real human.

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Categories
Business Self-Help/Life Coaching

PLANNING AHEAD FOR AN ORGANIZED LIFE

Written by Sherelee Rathnarajah Crawford

Each and every one of us has exactly 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.0916 seconds each day- not much yet sufficient to get our lives together. All we need is a plan made well ahead. This article explores why planning ahead allows for an upgrade in life.

What could possibly set the human species apart from all other animals? Various answers have proposed — language, mechanism, cooperation, culture, competency to adapt — but none is unique to humans. What makes us superior is our ability to contemplate the future. Planning ahead is one important subdivide of human foresight.

According to Alan Lakein, “planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” There is immense truth written in this statement for proactive individuals. There is much to gain through controlling the situation beforehand rather than responding to something once it has happened. So why is planning ahead important? The answers are numerous. However, let us boil it down to six very vital ones.

1. Less Stress

Remember a day when you had twenty plus things to do with zero prior preparations. How did it feel? At first, you might have felt overwhelmed, not knowing where to begin; even if you accomplished one task, you would have been lost as to what to do next; this might have resulted in you being so stressed that you just fell on the couch and postponed all that work to the next day. You lose 24 hours of your precious time simply because you have not prepared yourself beforehand. Planning-ahead would regulate this circumstance significantly since you would be more in control of the situation. You would be more focused on the task at hand than your overwhelming emotions. Your brain would see a logical set of instructions you need to follow in the form of your to-do list. As a result, the brain would automatically trigger less worry and more work.

2. Time-saving

If you are unprepared, switching from one task to another is going to take a prolonged time: Firstly, you would wonder, what work should be done next. Then, you would take more time wondering how long the task would take. Next, you would move around the house looking for the things needed to get the work done. Sometimes, you might get stuck doing one hard task when you could have spent the same time doing three smoother tasks. A firm preparation would easily take away the activation time needed to switch between duties and help to prioritize tasks based on their importance and time consumption. You will spend more time on the actual task rather than wondering about what to do next or turning the house upside down looking for equipment needed.

3. Higher quality work

When you make prior preparations, your brain is subconsciously working out on how to perform a task from the point of planning that I would like to define as brain-marination. The brain is soaking itself in a picture it has created for the future and is absorbing all the essential elements to make that picture realistically possible. Once you actually start attending to the work, the brain is releasing all the elements it has absorbed. That is why a well-planned task comes out closer to what your mind pictured than an unplanned task.

4. Being more present at the moment

Planning ahead leaves you with less worry for the future: you have a list of tasks at hand; you are attending to one task at a time; you are not worrying about what will come next since you already know what should be. Nothing gravitates you to the present more than this feeling of having each passing moment under your control. It provides the feeling of having lived that moment to the fullest. Even when you have allocated time for relaxing, you will take the maximum out of that period and enjoy it to the best, since you have your to-do list well at hand.

5. Being more accountable

Accountability is one aspect our generation is shying away from. Also, holding responsibility for one’s actions is just bitter medicine to some people. Accountability should begin from within oneself. One needs to learn to hold oneself accountable at his/her own promise. The first step to self-learned accountability is through planning-ahead and sticking to that plan. Treat yourself as a separate person for a moment and make plans with that outsider. Promise him/her to stick to the plan to the best of your abilities. Give your best shot at keeping this promise. If you fail, apologize to that outside-self. Promise never to let that person down. It will seem rather comical to speak to yourself at first. However, with repetition, you will find how nurturing and essential this practice will be. Actually, why not train your children as well? That way, at least the next generation will be better ambassadors of accountability. 

6. Sense of accomplishment

I cannot emphasize enough the sense of accomplishment you feel once you see all those check-boxes on your to-do list ticked off. It is a different hit of dopamine. Once you start achieving task after task, the following starts to happen,

  • Your living environment becomes cleaner.
  • Your children are learning a good habit, which adds value to their adulthood.
  • You have done some extra work with the time you have saved out of pre-planning.
  • You have saved money by not spending on any unnecessary commodity that was not in your to-do list. (I mean, have you tried shopping without checking your fridge or a shopping list?)
  • You expand your comfort-zone to bigger projects like investing money, finding a new hobby, or even getting involved in charity since you have the time and the mental clarity to delve in them.

Once your brain has had a taste of this dopamine hit, it is never going back to being in the haze of unpreparedness. It will know its potential, and it will direct you on a path to accomplish this potential perfectly. Finally, I would like to add that life is full of curve-balls. You might have a whole list of plans today that could be easily ruined by the simplest inconvenience of bad weather. What more to say when Covid-19 itself messed up the plans of the whole world for the past couple of months? However, I am sure nature granted us with this ability to pre-plan for a worthy cause. Hence, I feel that it is our duty to utilize this blessed skill that we were bestowed with for our greater good. Let me end with the sage Confucius’s words, “A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.”

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