Monday, December 26, 2005

Resolution 2006

By closely examining Myself, I found that I am a big-time Procrastinator.

"Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday."
I suppose Don Marquis was just trying to be cute, but who wants to live their lives in the past?

We should always live in the present.


Sure, positive memories can be good for the soul. And it is wonderful to look forward to the future.

But our life is now, no matter how much we procrastinate, so let's live it now.

Today.

This very minute.

Positive Quote Of The Day!

Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control. These three alone lead to sovereign power.
-- Lord Alfred Tennyson

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Winning Edge - By: Peter Doskoch

Peter Doskoch is a science writer based in New Jersey, and he is the former executive editor of Psychology Today.

In the summer of 1994, in the tallest of Princeton University's ivory towers, Andrew Wiles was completing one of the most extraordinary odysseys in the history of math. For more than three decades, Wiles had been obsessed with Fermat's Last Theorem, a seemingly simple problem that had stumped mathematicians for 350 years. French mathematician Pierre de Fermat had noted that although there are plenty of solutions to the equation X^2 + Y^2 = Z^2 (for example, 32 + 42 = 52), there is no corresponding solution if the numbers are cubed instead of squared. In fact, Fermat scribbled in the margin of a book that he had "truly marvelous" proof that the equation X^n + Y^n = Z^n has no solution if n is any number greater than 2. Unfortunately, he never put his proof on paper.


Wiles was 10 years old when he encountered the theorem. "It looked so simple, and yet all the great mathematicians in history couldn't solve it. I knew from that moment that I had to." When classmates were flocking to rock concerts, he was studying how geniuses of prior eras approached the problem. He abandoned the quest after college in order to focus on his budding academic career, but his obsession was rekindled in 1986, when a fellow mathematician showed that proving a certain mathematical hypothesis -- this one unsolved for a mere 30 years -- would also prove Fermat's theorem. He set aside all but the few classes he was teaching -- and revealed his quest to no one but his wife. To disguise his single-mindedness, he rationed the publication of previously completed work.

Despite long hours of focus -- his only source of relaxation was playing with his two young children -- the next few years produced little concrete progress. "I wasn't going to give up. It was just a question of which method would work," says Wiles. In 1993, after seven straight years of intense work -- more than 15,000 hours -- Wiles stepped up to the podium at a conference in England and, over the course of three lectures, presented his completed proof of Fermat's Last Theorem.

A media frenzy followed. The shy mathematician found himself named one of People magazine's 25 Most Intriguing People of the Year, alongside Oprah and Princess Diana. But a handful of peer reviewers poring over the 200-page proof found several small errors. Wiles set to work addressing them. After a full year of frustrating struggle, Wiles had the insight that allowed him to fix them.

Wiles' intellect is inarguably impressive; one of his colleagues told The New York Times that only 1 in 1,000 professional mathematicians were capable of understanding Wiles' work. However, the Princeton professor himself attributes his accomplishment not to his brains but to his persistence. "For me, it was the main thing," he says.

It is likely that somewhere, at this very moment, a parent or coach is declaring to a discouraged child that "quitters never win." But perseverance has come to seem like quaint lip service against the tide of interest in talent and aptitude, flashier gifts that nature, or genes, seem to inarguably confer.

And yet grit may turn out to be at least as good a gauge of future success as talent itself. In a series of provocative new studies at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers find that the gritty are more likely to achieve success in school, work and other pursuits -- perhaps because their passion and commitment help them endure the inevitable setbacks that occur in any long-term undertaking. In other words, it's not just talent that matters but also character. "Unless you're a genius, I don't think that you can ever do better than your competitors without a quality like grit," says Martin E. P. Seligman, director of the university's Positive Psychology Center.

Indeed, experts often speak of the "10-year rule" -- that it takes at least a decade of hard work or practice to become highly successful in most endeavors, from managing a hardware store to writing sitcoms -- and the ability to persist in the face of obstacles is almost always an essential ingredient in major achievements. The good news: Perhaps even more than talent, grit can be cultivated and strengthened.

How Much Does Talent Count?

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up," opined Thomas Edison, a man almost as famous for lauding perspiration as he is for inventing the lightbulb. If effort is the bedrock of success, what role do intelligence and other abilities play? "IQ counts for different amounts depending on the task and situation," emphasizes intelligence expert Robert Sternberg, dean of arts and sciences at Tufts University.

Manly large-scale analyses, however, suggest that a mere 25 percent of the differences between individuals in job performance -- and a third of the difference in grade point average -- can be attributed to IQ (personality factors, creativity and luck are said to contribute to the other 75 percent). Angela Duckworth, a graduate student at Penn who, together with Seligman, has conducted several key studies on grit, argues that the precise number isn't as important as knowing that intelligence accounts for only a fraction of success.

If 25 percent seems surprisingly low, that's partly because the hard work and determination that go into accomplishing Something Important are overshadowed by those rare but delightful lightning strikes of inspiration, mythologized as the visit of the Muse. "Unfortunately, no one comes in my window and whispers poems to me," laments David Baker, director of creative writing at Denison University and author of seven books of poetry, including Midwest Eclogue. "Poets work hard. I may work on a single poem for weeks or months and write 60 or 70 drafts -- only to decide that draft 22 was the good one."

Such persistence is vital even for an indisputable genius. Mozart's diaries, for example, contain an oft-cited passage in which the composer reports that an entire symphony appeared, supposedly intact, in his head. "But no one ever quotes the next paragraph, where he talks about how he refined the work for months," notes Jonathan Plucker, an educational psychologist at Indiana University.

Angela Duckworth had studied neurobiology in college and eventually went on to teach, including a stint at a school for low-income children. "It became pretty obvious to me that IQ didn't explain why so many of the kids had reading skills that were four grade levels below their average," she says. "The failure of kids to reach their potential was almost hitting me over the head." Already in her 30s and with a young child, Duckworth was intrigued enough to return to school for a Ph.D.

She approached Seligman, best known for his groundbreaking work on optimism, and together, they began identifying high achievers in various fields, interviewing them and describing the characteristics that distinguished them.

"There were certainly a fair number of people who were brilliant, ambitious and persevering," Duckworth reports. "But there were also a lot who were not a genius in any way but were really tenacious." They began referring to this tenacity as grit -- the determination to accomplish an ambitious, long-term goal despite the inevitable obstacles. Grit clearly resides in the same psychological neighborhood as motivation and self-discipline, but it's on a distinct property -- and no one had ever knocked on its front door before.

Altogether Different

Not that researchers have ignored it altogether. Louis Terman, the legendary psychologist who followed a group of gifted boys from childhood to middle age, reported that "persistence in the accomplishment of ends" was one of the factors that distinguished the most successful men from the least successful. And in the most-cited paper in the giftedness literature, University of Connecticut psychologist Joseph Renzulli, director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, argued that "task commitment" -- perseverance, endurance and hard work -- is one of the three essential components of giftedness (along with ability and creativity). Indeed, Renzulli says, the evidence that these nonintellectual factors are critical to giftedness is "nothing short of overwhelming."

For the 95 percent of humanity that isn't recognized as gifted, Duckworth and Seligman have an egalitarian finding: Grit has value for people at all levels of ability.

In fact, their initial studies show that grit and intelligence are completely independent traits. Both enhance the likelihood of success, but the brightest among us are no more likely than the dimmest to be gritty. "I would be surprised if grit only matters for the upper echelons," Duckworth says. "One could argue that if you don't have a lot of raw ability, it's doubly important to be focused, hardworking and able to bounce back from setbacks."

The Penn researchers have already found that grit is valuable in a variety of real-world academic settings -- such as middle school spelling bees. And they're looking at its real-world value among real estate agents and Wharton Business School grads.

They've proved that grit is the premier attribute for surviving the grueling first summer of training at West Point ("Beast Barracks"), when as many as 5 percent of new cadets typically drop out. "West Point costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per student, so the military has a keen interest in predicting attrition," Duckworth explains. A grit questionnaire administered to all 1,223 cadets entering the class of 2008 showed that grit is the single best yardstick for predicting who will survive the academy's punishing first weeks. It bested such highly touted measures as high school class rank, SAT scores, athletic experience and faculty appraisal scores. "Sticking with West Point doesn't have as much to do with how smart you are as your character does," Duckworth concludes.

The Power of Passion

Certainly character was a tremendous asset to Andrew Wiles, who says he has a "single-mindedness that I don't see in most other people." But he also had "a special passion" for Fermat's Last Theorem. It is this sort of fervor and fascination that might just be the cornerstone of grit.

The idea that passion fuels perseverance has crucial implications: If grit -- and hence high achievement -- hinges on passion, then it's especially important for parents to expose their children to the broadest possible range of academic, artistic and athletic activities, to maximize the chances that something will capture the child's imagination. Helping children find their passion may turn out to be more important than addressing their academic weaknesses.

Renzulli points to his own son as Exhibit A. From early childhood, the boy was, in his father's words, "an electrical, mechanical and scientific genius." He routinely received As in science and math -- but Cs in English and history. "He would bring home his report card and his mother would go ballistic," Renzulli recalls. But convinced that his son's love of science was the key to his future success, Renzulli wasn't concerned. "I'd take him for a car ride, get some ice cream and say, 'I'm as happy as a lark that you are doing what you're doing. And I don't care about those Cs.'" The younger Renzulli, now in his 30s, has become a highly successful researcher.

Although extremely persistent people are usually passionate about their work, that doesn't mean that the passion always comes first. Perseverance, notes Duckworth, can itself foster passion. Often the most fascinating aspects of a topic (particularly a highly complex one) become apparent only after deep immersion, to a level "where you understand it and are enlivened by it."

Such is the case with Duckworth herself, who says that she decided on graduate school after a string of job stints in neuroscience research, management consulting and teaching spawned a desire to stick with one thing long enough to become an expert in it. "I decided to be persevering," she says. Although she had always been interested in education and achievement, her passion for exploring grit fully emerged only after she had been pursuing it for a while.
For others, persistence may grow from a desire to test one's limits, to see how far one can go -- sometimes literally. Think of endurance athletes, for whom challenge isn't merely an obstacle to accomplishing something but often the spur to action in the first place. Duckworth points to athletes who spend months or years training for a marathon not because they love the act of running long distances but because they want the personal satisfaction or public glory of having run a marathon.


Lance Armstrong entered his first distance running race at the age of 10, because he was determined to find something at which he could succeed. He won, and within three years he was winning swim meets and triathlons too -- anything that tested his mettle. "If it was a suffer-fest, I was good at it," he wrote in his autobiography It's Not About the Bike.

No less remarkable in his perseverance is Chinh Chu, who has engineered some of the largest private equity deals in history. During the 1980s, Chu worked his way through college by selling books door to door, becoming his company's top salesman in a job where 60 percent of sales come after the customer has said "no" and a third come after three "no's."

In his final year of college, Chu used his persistence to land a job on Wall Street, getting his foot in the door by driving eight hours through a snowstorm in order to crash a cocktail reception hosted by Salomon Brothers. As Chu and his friend were about to be kicked out, a recruiter, impressed by their verve, offered Chu an interview. More recently, as senior managing director of the Blackstone Group, Chu has led the grueling negotiations for complex multibillion-dollar deals that literally took years to structure and complete.

Perseverance, he insists, "is purely a state of mind" that depends on one's happiness and level of discomfort. But because people are influenced by their environment, a person's grit may vary as circumstances change. Enduring the rigors of selling books door to door is a lot easier for someone hungry to prove themselves. "I don't think I'd make it if you sent me out today to sell books door to door," he offers. Diligence has not deserted him; it's just moved to a fancier address.

Also in the Mix

Passion may be the linchpin of grit, but it's not the only element. Ambition is right on its heels. For some of us, vowing to organize our closet next weekend may represent the height of our ambition. Truly gritty people, however, tend to set especially challenging long-term goals; one of Duckworth's recent students confidently stated that he planned to become a U.S. Senator.

Self-discipline is probably also an important part of grit, and studies have shown that gritty people tend to be highly self- disciplined. But whereas perseverance implies the ability to keep doing something, self-discipline primarily implies the ability to refrain from doing something -- to stop drinking, goofing off or straying from one's diet. It doesn't embrace the ambition and zest needed to tackle a challenging goal. "Self-discipline is probably necessary for grit," Duckworth says, "but it's not sufficient."

Then there's optimism, a trait that Dean Keith Simonton of the University of California at Davis finds is extremely common among high achievers. "It helps them hang in there in times when they have to overcome all of these obstacles," he observes. "They just really believe in the end that they're going to win, and until they do, they're just going to keep on pushing, keep on making the phone calls, writing the letters, whatever they have to do."

It's this optimism, most likely, that helped Chester Carlson convince someone that the technology he had invented was worthwhile, even after more than 20 companies and the National Inventors Council rejected his work. Carlson called his new process electrophotography; today it's known as photocopying.

Grit at Home

Grit gets right into bed with you, and that may be one of the secrets of successful marriages. During the 1950s, demographer Paul Glick found that high school dropouts were more likely than graduates to be divorced, leading to speculation that people who give up on some hard things, like finishing school, are also unlikely to persevere in other matters, such as marriage.

Although plausible explanations have been proposed for the Glick Effect, the issue remains unresolved. The Penn researchers have not yet examined whether marital status or marital duration is associated with grit, although Duckworth confides they've got something in the works. It seems reasonable that people who are highly persistent in their work would also be adept at overcoming obstacles in their marriage, but it's possible that some highly driven, gritty individuals might be so focused on their career that personal relationships actually suffer.

Grit, most likely, can be taught, or at least encouraged. But one impediment to growing grit may be -- surprisingly -- the seemingly innocent act of parents praising a child's intelligence. In one fascinating series of studies, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck and her colleagues showed that children who were praised for their intelligence cared more about their grades than about learning during subsequent tasks. And after experiencing a failure, these children were less persistent than their peers who had been praised for their effort. "When you praise kids' intelligence and then they fail, they think they're not smart anymore, and they lose interest in their work," Dweck explains. "In contrast, kids praised for effort show no impairment and often are energized in the face of difficulty."

In another study, seventh graders were categorized according to whether they felt that intelligence is fixed or malleable. Students who viewed intelligence as something that can be cultivated earned progressively higher grades during the next two years, whereas those who had a fixed view of intelligence did not improve. "When you have a malleable view of intelligence, you believe in learning and you believe in effort," Dweck says. "When you have the fixed view, you don't."

Based on these findings, Dweck and colleagues designed a program (the Brainology Workshop) that explains to kids that learning creates new neuronal connections in the brain and that they themselves can foster this process. When seventh graders whose grades had been declining took the workshop, their marks shot right back up. Among a control group that received only the study skills, grades continued to fall. The program is currently being tested in New York City schools.

The data demonstrate the need for parents and teachers to praise effort rather than ability. But it also explains why so many prodigies fail to flourish as adults: The adoration showered upon them in childhood rests on their remarkable abilities rather than on their hard work.

The need for grit is generally hidden from the young until they head off to college or enter the workforce. That's when it first becomes necessary to chart one's own course and set one's own goals. Before then, achievement hinges largely on doing your homework -- and that's chosen by others and assigned to you. Nonetheless, says Duckworth, perseverance clearly matters for kids. Gritty youngsters get better grades than their peers. And, as a study of participants in this year's National Spelling Bee revealed, kids who ranked high in grit were more likely to reach the final round of the competition, for the simple reason that they had worked harder than their rivals to prepare for the event.

Global Grit

Some argue that grit is engrained in the American psyche. In his recent book The Hypomanic Edge, Johns Hopkins psychiatrist John Gartner observes that the U.S. and other countries founded by immigrants tend to have high rates of people with mild mania. These folks tend to be energetic risk takers -- precisely the type of person likely to undertake a bold endeavor like immigration. Moreover, such people "are able to persist when others might get depressed," notes U.C. Davis psychologist Dean Keith Simonton.

Today the Pacific Rim countries may best exemplify grit. Think of Japan's astounding rebirth following its defeat in World War II, transforming itself from a near-feudal empire to a modernized republic and economic powerhouse. Or the long hours and Spartan conditions that welcome laborers in China's many factories. The writings of Confucius teach that people can reach perfection through practice and effort. Many Chinese folktales focus on feats of persistence -- for example, a boy who grew up in such poverty that he couldn't afford oil for his lamp but who nonetheless worked very hard and succeeded in becoming a government official.

Parental expectations are uniformly high in Asian cultures: Even though children in Japan outperform American children on most educational measures, their parents tend to say, "My kids can do better." By contrast, a large proportion of American parents report that they are satisfied with their kids' academic performance, lackluster though it may be by international standards.

Of course, hard work isn't the same as grit, and perseverance in response to parental obligations or social norms doesn't come close to suggesting the lit-from-within passion that drives most innovators. But external motivators like family expectations and internal motivators like passion often work together, in symbiosis. "It's possible," says Duckworth, "to do something because your parents say you should do it but then gradually learn to love it."

When giftedness expert Ellen Winner of Boston College visited China in the late 1980s, she was "absolutely astonished" by an after-school program in which first graders were required to choose an art form such as calligraphy or traditional ink and brush drawing -- and they were to continue practicing it for six years. "I asked a teacher, 'What happens if a child changes his mind or says that he didn't choose the right thing?' She looked at me like I was crazy and said, 'That never happens.'"

At first Winner was horrified that children were expected to stick with something that had been thrust upon them at such an early age: "It was like an arranged marriage. But then I thought, 'There's something really great about this, because these kids are really gaining mastery. And when they see that they're becoming good, they develop motivation.'"

In a global marketplace where innovation is more critical to viability than ever before, there's an urgency to identifying and, eventually, cultivating, the elements of success. Duckworth, Dweck and a host of others are demonstrating that grit is an important contributor.

Another thing they know: This isn't your grandmother's view of grit. The quality Duckworth finds so intriguing has little to do with clenched teeth. Rather, it's a force of motivation so luminous that, as mathematician Andrew Wiles found, it constantly renews itself.

Despite instant messaging, speed dating and immediate gratification, the idea that perseverance pays off big-time is slowly gathering steam. It augurs a far more democratic vision than a culture of achievement that recognizes only talent. No wonder grit is on its way to becoming The Next Big Thing.

Summary: We're primed to think that talent is the key to success. But what counts even more is a fusion of passion and perseverance. In a world of instant gratification, grit may yield the biggest payoff of all.

Are You a Procrastinator?

We have to start with the definition of procrastination. In general, procrastination is the gap between intention and action. You wake up with the intention to write a report. But for some reason it is aversive, and you keep putting it off. A key point--procrastination involves actively putting something off, not just letting something slide in front of it from a too-long to-do list.
Only you can tell whether you are a procrastinator. It usually involves some negative feeling when you put off a task, like anxiety or guilt.

If you think of procrastination as a trait, then we all have a certain amount within us. It's related to conscientiousness, your sense of orderliness, of dutifulness. People who are low on the trait of conscientiousness also tend to be procrastinators. But for most of us, the "procrastinating" that we do is not problematic. Most likely, we are unduly beating ourselves up for being procrastinators when the real problem is that we live in a world that is loaded with deadlines. And we're just engaging an a kind of after-the-fact task management.

College, for example, makes procrastinators of many people. Or, rather, it brings that trait out even in people who have low levels of it. There are constant deadlines, apprehension about evaluation comes with the territory, and projects are constantly being foist upon students that compete for their time.

The point is, not all deferring of tasks is procrastination. Dr. Pychyl insists that we make the distinction. There is such a thing as the planning fallacy. Most of us are overly optimistic, especially about what we are going to get done. We drag home bulging briefcases for the weekend, even if we know at some level that we can't possibly do all of it.

We live in a world with lots of deadlines. We put things off as a matter of good task management, but we wind up beating ourselves up and mistakenly attribute it to procrastination. When realistically we probably put too many things on our plate.

But the waters get a bit muddy here because true procrastinators rationalize away their own self-injurious behavior by invoking the press of competing demands. Unlike the rest of us they are not de facto prioritizing their activities, they are actually actively expending mental energy to put something off.

Here's another way that not everything that looks like procrastination is procrastination. Like procrastination, depression involves a failure to act. It's one of the things that characterizes depression--lack of energy and motivation. People who are depressed are likely to beat themselves up for procrastinating, when in fact in their case procrastination is the surface symptoms of mental illness. And it must be handled differently.

So before you beat yourself up for procrastinating, check to see whether you make a career out of it. If you don't do it in most of the areas of your life, then probably you are not a procrastinator. Now you really have no excuses -- so get moving!!


Also, another fact is that "Procrastinators Perform Poorly Under Pressure".

Anyone who has scraped by a deadline may believe that they do their best work under pressure. A growing body of research, however, suggests that there is no silver lining to procrastination. Instead, people may procrastinate to stave off insecurity about failure.


Joseph R. Ferrari, Ph.D., a psychology professor at DePaul University in Chicago, has found that procrastinators usually perform more poorly than nonprocrastinators, even when he controlled for intelligence. They also perform more slowly and less accurately when carrying out difficult cognitive tasks under time constraints.

On the one hand, procrastinators enjoy the pleasure that accompanies jittery nerves before a deadline, according to Ferrari. But they also have less self-confidence than their peers. Procrastinators may exert less effort because they want people to think that they're not trying rather than believe that they are incapable.

In experiments reported in the European Journal of Personality, procrastinators completed less of a task than nonprocrastinators when given a strict time limit, but fared almost as well with more time. Ferrari believes that this reflects scaled back efforts under pressure.


Source: psychologytoday

Is the To-Do List Doing You In?


Many days seem to bring an endless barrage of tasks and responsibilities, all of which apparently must be tackled right away. You spend the day putting out fires, but by the end of the day you haven't accomplished any of the really important things you set out to do.


In desperation, you draft a to-do list — but most days, you can make little progress with it. When you look at the list each morning, a big fat cloud of doom is right at the top — those difficult, complex, important tasks that are so crucial to get done — and so easy to avoid.

Plenty of us create a to-do list to address feelings of being overwhelmed, but we rarely use these tools to their best effect. They wind up being guilt-provoking reminders of the fact that we're overcommitted and losing control of our priorities.

Is there a better way to use the to-do list? Experts on procrastination and efficiency say yes.
There's a right way and a wrong way to do a "to-do." According to procrastination researcher Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, people often draw up a to-do list — and then rest on their laurels. The list itself becomes the day's achievement, allowing us to feel we've done something useful without taking on any real work.


In fact, drawing up the list becomes a way of avoiding the work itself! "Too often, the list is seen as the 'accomplishment' for the day, reducing the immediate guilt of not working on the tasks at hand by investing energy in the list," says Pychyl. "When a list is used like this, it is simply another way in which we 'lie' to ourselves."

It's an example of what's been called the "procrastination field" — we're preparing ourselves to work, we're getting all set to take it on, but we never actually start doing it. Instead, we waste time and make ourselves feel terrible by circling around it.

For many people, that takes the form of attending to a barrage of tiny details and immediate requests. Burying yourself in busywork is an effective way to avoid more important — and more challenging — tasks. Pychyl says that procrastinators typically "binge" on low-priority activities, bustling about with stuff that's second- or third-level priority, rather than tackling the things they really need to do.

If this is your pattern, a to-do list can be a big help — if you use it the right way. If there's one dreaded chore that stays on the top of your list for a while, says Pychyl, that's a signal that you should either tackle it right away or admit you're never going to do it and strike it off the list altogether.

Break it down. In order to make it easier to begin working on big, intimidating tasks, efficiency experts suggest breaking it down into much smaller parts composed of specific, tangible activities. Research has shown that tasks that don't have an obvious action plan or structure are the hardest ones to face.

Make it easier on yourself by listing specific actions and subgoals. Your to-do list will get much longer but, paradoxically, will be a much more helpful tool.
Make a flow chart. This type of list "becomes a 'flow chart' that tells you when to start and when you'll be finished," says psychologist and life coach Neil Fiore, author of The Now Habit. "You create an overview and act like a project manager who is less likely to be overwhelmed or distracted by low priority or urgent tasks."


Each item on the list should have a priority assigned to it, he says. Another way to motivate yourself is to schedule alternating tasks: spend one hour on a number-one priority item, and then "reward" yourself by doing something easier and lower-priority for the next 30 minutes.
Maintain focus. Lists help you maintain momentum. If you're working on an important but difficult task, and a concern or thought bubbles up regarding a different responsibility, jot it down and return to it in a half hour or so when you're done with the project you were working on.


Get real! Fiore says that a strength of to-do lists is that they force you to be realistic about the amount of time you have and to make some hard decisions about priorities. "Realistically, you can't do it all," he says. "But you can focus on the best use of your time now, in alignment with your higher priorities and with the reality of human limits, humbly accepted."

Source: psychologytoday

Monday, December 12, 2005

Shivers

Ever wonder what a shiver is?
If your body temperature starts falling, one way to heat it up is to get your muscles moving, and if you won't do it by jumping or running, your body will kick-start them in a more desperate fashion.

Ever wonder what anxiety is?
If your life fails to inspire, one way to get things going is to go out and do something, and if you won't do it by embracing new risks, will kick-start it in a more desperate fashion.

Kick-start your life yourself, before your mind does it for you.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Memories

When you lose all hope, when things seem bleakest, when life seems like it can't scratch you up any more, there is one thing you can always reach for.

Memories of things that did work well. Memories of times you loved. Memories of beauty you have seen or felt. Memories allow you to feel joy in the midst of sorrow. Memories allow you to feel a hug when you are alone. Memories allow you to smell a rose, even when the snow is two feet deep.

Pull out some memories today, and relive the best that life has to offer (so far).

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Motivational Quotes of the Day!

There are three constants in life... change, choice and principles.
-Stephen R. Covey, American Speaker/Trainer/Author of "The 7 Habits ofHighly Effective People"

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was hëre first.
- Mark Twain, 1835-1910, American Writer andHumorist

Monday, November 28, 2005

Values

What do you get when you mix red and yellow? Orange, of course.

So why do so many of us see the world in black and white. Every one of us knows exactly what is right and what is wrong. Funny how our certain knowledge differs from person to person. Could we both be right? In most cases, yes. Because we are all seeing orange, just different shades of it.

In a few cases, someone mixes red and yellow and sees blue. Oops. We have a problem. But most of us know the difference between right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, etc.

What to do? Hold on to your beliefs and values, as they are important to who you are. But respect others whose views might not be identical. After all, they are not you, and their beliefs and values are important to who they are, too.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Air is Free?

Think Again.

You take in Oxygen (O2) and give out Carbon-di-Oxide (CO2). You have to add (burn) your own Carbon along with Oxygen when you return it to nature.

This thought just crossed my mind when I came across the line ‘Nothing is FREE in this world’.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Choice

Every situation presents you with two paths. You can choose the path of reaction or you can choose the path of action.

The first path is not really even about choice. It is the abdication of choice to every little event. You might leave the headlights on overnight. Or the photocopier jams. Or you spill ketchup on your blouse. The first path allows these events to bring you down, because you simply react.

The second path is the path of choice. It is about choosing how you want to feel. Dead batteries, jams and stains won't bring you down because they do not factor into your choice. If you choose to be happy, you will still be happy. These little events will still be inconvenient, but inconvenience is not the same thing as misery.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Just Wondering

Now, I see a difference in my blog.

I have the Blog name changed and also the template which seems better. I am happy about the changes that have been made on this :)

Just wondering, why do I like astronomy/astrophysics conceptually and not with Mathematics in it?
Is it because I dont understand ? or is it because I don't want to understand?
I don't know.
When it comes to equations in physics, I go bonkers.

I am saying this coz, in my final year Bsc., my subjects being Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, I was equally interested in physics as well as Mathematics. I joined Honors course in Astrophysics in St. Joseph's College.

A scientist from ISRO used to come to take the sessions. I always admire him for his one liner "Pictures speak 1000 times louder than words" which he really meant and used to teach with more number of slides. I really liked the initial sessions as it was all concepts and slides which I loved.

Later, perhaps after 5-6 sessions, it was all mathematics in physics with huge equations which I disliked. After one or two sessions I discontinued the course.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

No motivation

I feel that my blog doesn’t motivate me to blog on a regular basis.

Just thinking why it doesn’t motivate....
Firstly, the background is so flashy....in search of good template.
Secondly, also looking forward to change the name of my Blog....I guess it’s awful....

Let me change these two and see if I get motivated....

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Significance

Significance

We often think that we must accomplish some huge, highly publicized feat to achieve greatness-climb Everest without bottled oxygen, invent some wonderful product that everyone in the world needs: make the Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest, save a child from a burning building, or win a TV reality show contest.

Actually, greatness comes from consistently making wise smaller choices. The accumulation of many good small choices has the same impact as a few small drops of Tabasco sauce-intense power!

Greatness comes from consistently keeping our commitments and promises. Keeping our word builds trust from others and trust in ourselves.

When we seek after and respect goodness, we develop greatness in ourselves. We attract greatness by appreciating the outdoors, reading good books, developing our talents, and carefully selecting television programs and movies that inspire integrity.

POSITIVE QUOTE OF THE DAY
-----------------------------

The three great essentials to achieving anything worthwhile are;first, hard work, second, stick-to-it-iveness, and third, commonsense.

-- Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931) American Inventor

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.

- Hubert H. Humphrey,1911-1978, American Politician and Former Vice President of the UnitedStates

Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.

- Harriet Braiker, American Psychologist and ManagementConsultant

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I Am Not an Illiterate!!

I Am Not an Illiterate!!

The Day before Ananth Chaturdashi.
Venue: My uncle’s place
Occasion: Ganpathi Hom
Time: Around 10Am

All my aunts, cousins joined in for the occasion. My uncle still had the Ganapati idol at home and had planned to immerse it on Ananth Chaturdashi. Hom had already started when we stepped in. Everybody busy watching the hom and seemed they were praying too. After an hour, it was time to disperse after the pooja was over. Suddenly there was increase in the pitch of voice exchanging pleasantries, sharing the experiences, facts and gossiping about the stuff they really enjoy (that is to discuss about who did what and was it right or wrong, how somebody should have done something, why did someone do something like that…list goes on….).

After a while they seem to have got bored of talking about the same thing over and over about the same. After lot of discussion (rather gossip), it was time to prepare lunch. While preparing lunch they discovered new topics to discuss, for one small point they excavated lot of other topics related to the root topic. I met my cousin after a long time, we were busy discussing our own topics and we were also wondering if they (my aunts) all would have been in the research field, lot of things could have been unearthed related to one particular topic. They were discussing as though they were about to write a thesis. Arguing and establishing their own understanding about the point they were making.
Finally, they all came to terms. Cooking was done. The food prepared was kept before God and the final pooja was to be done.

It was around 4.30 pm, the pooja started. My cousin is a schoolteacher and she is very proud of being one. She always wanted to be an amateur teacher. We share the same birth year and month. The pooja was going on and were asked to recite any Ganesh mantra. I knew only one, which I used to recite since my school days. I recited that and told them that is all I know. My cousin was reciting a whole bunch of songs about Ganeshji. She was doing really well. After a while, a spark of thought hit my mind as though Ganeshji knocked my head and said “Fool, you are not an illiterate.” After that moment there was an overwhelming joy in me. For the first time I realized I am not an illiterate. I should have made an effort to learn some of Ganpathi mantras’. Then I promised God that the next time (next Ganesh Chaturthi), I would learn some new Ganesh mantra and recite it.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Working Memory

Working Memory

What is Working Memory?

Memory over a short period of time is called Working Memory. This is a simple process of remembering things for a short period of time that happens everyday in our lives.

Early psychological work in the 1950's and 1960's led to the hypothesis of 'short term memory'; a process of limited capacity and only operative over a few seconds. The concept of 'working memory' is an extension of this idea, with the added idea that short term memory is woven together with higher cognitive processes, such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension.

Unlike long term memory, which has a large clinical body of research, working memory has only recently become the focus of intense clinical study. It is often assayed in intelligence or cognitive examinations using span tests, in which patients are asked to repeat a set of digits in reverse order (if I read "8-9-3-2-1-9", you would say "9-1-2-3-9-8") or alphabetize a group of words that had been read aloud. Studies of patients with various frontal lobe lesions do not show a systematic deficit in storage. These studies indicate that working memory is not one process; rather, it is made up of several separable processes.

A Psychological Perspective

Alan Baddeley, in his landmark book Working Memory, captures three decades of psychological work on working memory systems. Many working memory experiments simply consist of stimuli that are to be remembers for a few seconds. A typical task might ask you to remember a few letters, numbers, or features of an object. Typically, there is a brief delay, after which the subject is 'probed', or asked what he or she remembers. From extensive studies like these, Baddeley proposed a model of working memory that involved three distinct subsystems. The best described is the 'phonological loop', a system that draws upon speech resources. For example, if I wanted to remember a set of numbers, I might catch myself whispering to myself -- it turns out that speech systems are an integral part of working memory. The second component is the visuospatial sketchpad, a parallel system akin to an artist's sketchbook for stimuli that cannot be verbalized, such as spatial information. The third main unit is the central executive, a system responsible for supervisory attentional control and cognitive processing. This last system, though poorly defined, is most alluring because it represents the very stuff of thought.

Where is Working Memory in the Brain?

The rich psychological research, the simplicity and fundamental nature of working memory systems, and the adaptability of working memory experiments make it ripe for new brain imaging technologies. Both PET and fMRI capitalize on properties of cerebral blood flow to make inferences about underlying neural activity. Founded upon Baddeley's model of working memory, investigators have begun to explore neural correlates of working memory. Several neuroimaging studies provide evidence for a distinct neurological basis for a phonological loop, as well as separate processes for storage of items and retrieval. During the storage phase of verbal working memory tasks, activity is found in Broca's area (involved in speech production) in addition to supplementary and premotor areas (involved in movement) in frontal cortex, and is strongly consistent with activity in areas involved in preparation of speech from other neuroimaging studies. In addition, different networks are involved in retrieval as compared with storage in the left lateralized frontal cortex.

The neural correlates of spatial or object storage, in pursuit of the visuospatial sketchpad, is somewhat more tenuous. Neuroimaging studies yield that there are different areas activated in spatial or object memory tasks compared to those in verbal working memory tasks. Neuroimaging studies also suggest a difference in storage systems compared with retrieval systems in spatial or object working memory, indicating that there are again separate networks at work.

The Elusive Central Executive

The most fascinating line of inquiry confronts the idea of a 'central executive', a control system that mediates attention and regulation of processes occurring in working memory. The idea of a central executive was first postulated by Baddeley. Many investigators have seen evidence supporting the idea of a central executive; they have observed higher cognitive activity in an area in the prefrontal cortex, called DLPFC (Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex), during difficult tasks. This area shows activity during object working memory, and what are termed 'executive processes', such as planning, focusing attention on an object, switching between tasks, and 'inhibition' of short term storage (which are often tested using probes designed to distract subjects). One powerful design to study executive processes is to tax working memory systems to its capacity, or to present the subject with two tasks to perform simultaneously. As the reasoning goes, if you make working memory systems work hard, the central executive will intervene to manage the increased load. Examples of such difficult tasks include remembering a set of numbers while doing simple math or the famous Stroop task, where color names are presented in different colors ("red", for example, might be presented in green text).

A few neuroimaging studies using these difficult tasks support the notion of a central executive control system. In one fMRI study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, participants had to place objects in a category and decide whether two visual displays differed by rotation. In the dual task condition, frontal areas showed increased activity, including DLPFC and the anterior cingulate gyrus (an attentional area). Both areas are active in attention and inhibition tasks, and the anterior cingulate has been implicated in PET studies of the Stroop test. Despite these studies, the concept of a central executive still remains tantalizing and mysterious, and much further exploration remains to be done.

Other Evidence About Working Memory

In addition to neuroimaging studies, there is converging evidence from animal models and cellular studies. Typically, awake, behaving monkeys are studied with electrophysiology, and the interconnections of individual circuits can be mapped out. Many of these circuits, thought to be comprised of large pyramidal cells, are focused in monkey prefrontal cortex, analogous to that of humans. Careful studies of these neurons reveal exquisite patterns of neuronal connectivity, and several models of working memory are derived from this connectivity.

The pharmacology of working memory also proves fascinating. Dopamine, a largely inhibitory neurotransmitter with many functions, is thought to play a major role in working memory. The frontal cortex has many dopaminergic pathways, which may modulate the activity of the pyramidal cells in the frontal cortex. Again, although much evidence has been marshalled by scientists who study working memory in monkeys, the relationship to human working memory systems is unclear.

As more information becomes available about working memory, it will become possible to think clearly about diseases such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease, conditions that show clear deficits in working memory. Many scientists have studied the way that working memory interacts with these and other diseases; however, without knowing more about the structure of working memory, it is difficult to draw further conclusions about its specific interaction with neuropsychological disease. Another intriguing line of research involves tracking working memory systems in aging; as humans age, there is a clear decline in their working memory capacity. It is not yet clear what component of the systems of working memory is responsible for this decline.

Despite the current intensive inquiry into how we remember things on a short time scale, the components of working memory remain shrouded in mystery. Further research on the systems of working memory will result in greater understanding of this fundamental system that we use almost every moment of our lives, providing insights into the higher cognitive processes that it feeds.

So bottom line:

All you need to do to top the CAT is make use of Wokable Memory right from nOW!

Source referred: Brainconnection

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Lord Krishna!

Here are some very good pics of Krishna which I got in a mail circular and also there goes a message.





Hear what Krishna says:......

If I answer your prayer at once, it is because I am testing your faith.

If did not answer your prayer at once, it is because I am testing your
patience.

If I did not answer your prayer at all it is because I have a better
plan for you.

Remember Krishna's promises are yes and Haribol! He is God
not man, which explains why He can never fail, hold on, don't be discouraged, your
miracle is knocking at the door of your heart.

A little more faith is what you need to see all your needs met.

The Prayer Answering Krishna is saying He has met all your needs.

Have a Lovely Weekend!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Long time!

Its been a long time after I posted the first blog. Everyday I think i should write something special or something interesting.

In this thinking process, I tend to never write anything at all.
Now I ve decided, I will start with writing things that catches my attention everyday and the things that I observe and feel I should write about it.

Let me begin with ToDay(Friday). Just had three things on my mind


1. Had to go out with my mom to temple(Krishna janmashtami special)

2. Had been to IIM-B to collect the CAT form. I never realized when the dates of issues the cat forms by SBI passed by. Today was the last day. Luckily, I had informed one of my friends in IIMB(Praveen) to get the form. Praveen was aksing about Zango, FC espesially Psychodementia.

3. I had to finish reading a book which I couldnt complete coz I was watched movie" Maine Pyar Kyuon Kiya". Fun movie, liked Sush' acting:)


Will keep posting the lastest stuff...:) Till then EnjOY

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mera Bharat Mahan


Let me Begin my Debu' post with the Independence Day Message!




HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY TO ALL!!!!!

MERA BHARAT MAHAAN

Regs,
Rathna