Chasing After Flow

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“Location Boxing”

I came across an article from Lifehacker about a concept called “location boxing.” It refers to changing your physical location (home, work, coffee shop, etc.) according to the task at hand so your brain in more attuned with the environment. An example from the article was the author only responding to email from a nearby cafe and then ignoring them once at the office. This way he was better able to focus on what he did at each location. Compartmentalizing in a sense.

I remember other similar examples from college. In my Cognitive Psychology class the professor discussed how studying for tests can be more effective if you’re able to study where you’ll actually be taking the test. This way, as you review and learn (hopefully) the material, that knowledge is being associated with the physical environment you’re in on some level in the brain. This way when taking the test, your brain can more easily retrieve the needed information from environmental triggers.

This concept also applies to why its advised to not do anything in your bed apart from sleeping. So no eating, no reading, and definitely no TV. This way your body isn’t confused when you lay down at night and its easier to fall asleep.

Here’s a link to the original article from Lifehacker: http://lifehacker.com/try-location-boxing-to-get-your-brain-to-switch-gears-486199905?

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The Perpetual Student

Comfortable Seating, Learning Resource Centre,...

(Photo credit: jisc_infonet)

What is it about learning something new that is so invigorating? Well that’s not entirely correct, let me try that again: what is it about learning something new that’s interesting that is so invigorating? Has anybody else had that experience? If you have then you know what I’m talking about. And I’m sure almost had had that but maybe they don’t realize it.

There are times when you are learning about some new AND interesting for the first time and it is just so intriguing. You just want to keep learning more and more and have that knowledge engulf you in its amazingness. That desire becomes an unquenchable thirst that consumes all your thoughts and actions. All you care about is learning more and more. It builds on itself too because you kept seeing new connections on how everything relates and/or come up with new questions to be answered. This is flow.

What to learn more about flow? Click here.

I have this flow triggered in many different ways about many different topics. What does it for me might not do it for you and vice versa. That whole not my cup of tea stuff. For me, the big things are psychology and technology which is why you see so much of it on here. I also enjoy business, politics, social media, film and tv, and the list goes on. It doesn’t really matter what it is that gets your flow going but the trick is to figure what it is.

I remember my sophomore year in college as the time was approaching for me to declare my major. I was all set to be a business major. It was a sound choice that would allow me to have greater job opportunities once I was out of school. I went through the course catalog and planned out all the classes I would need. But then I realized something. At this time I was taking Psychology 101 and every time I was around my friends at work I would be talking about some new cool thing I learned in class. The night before I was set to meet my advisor I made the decision to go for psychology instead. One of the best decisions of my life.

In the end I think I would have been fine either way because I have this innate curiosity to learn more and more. I like to see how things are connected and relate to each other. There can be a great joy in figuring out the why of something. Which led to a conversation with my wife the other day. She asked me what I wanted to do career wise since what I’m doing currently isn’t a long-term goal. I thought about it for a second and honestly said if we had the money I would be a full-time student and just study.

Now I’m not a big fan of tests and papers. I hate homework and dislike required readings. So studying that way probably wouldn’t be best. But as I look at different degree programs that are offered and what I would study I become overwhelmed because I want to study them all! I would love to get another masters in this or a PhD in that and that. I really love to learn and cultivate my flow.

Alas, finances do not permit a lifestyle of the perpetual student. Daily life, paying bills, and having mouths to feed require real employment. And I’m okay with that. I console myself in other ways. I seek out to learn new things on my own. I enjoy reading the news and coming across interesting articles. I like to listen to podcasts from iTunes U. I also love TED talks and what the presenters have to share. So while I may not be an official perpetual student on a full-time basis, I will be a avid learner forever.

Books About Flow

Now I knew there was a book about the psychology behind flow by the guy who came up with the concept, but I somehow forgot about that fact until today. I was on Amazon.com and there was a link to the book as a recommendation for me (they know me so well). I clicked on and was pleasantly surprised to see two other books by the guy. I say "the guy" because he has a very long and hard to pronounce name that I am not even going to attempt to say.
You can check out his works here:

Note: this is also my first post via email so let’s see how this works out.

You are not the illness

This is a very important issue within the mental health that everyone should be aware of.

Knowledge For Growth

You may have an illness, but you are not the illness. This was an important lesson I learned from my first counselling supervisor, Katherine Stetson. During my master’s program in counselling psychology, I did an internship as an Adolescent and Family Therapist. One of my first assignments was to videotape and transcribe 10-minutes of an individual counselling session. My client was an adolescent male.

I was nervous as heck. What if I say something stupid?! What if he wants to talk about a serious issue that I know absolutely nothing about?! My supervisor will laugh and fail me! These are the kinds of thoughts that ran through my head. But once the session started, I felt really comfortable. We started off by talking about school, friendships, his family, and then his mother’s illness.

“Yeah, she’s got schiza…schi…what do you call that?”
“Is it schizophrenia?” I asked.
“Yeah! That’s it! She’s…

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Why Can’t I ‘Dislike’ Something on Facebook?

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We’ve all seen one those posts on Facebook before. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones where someone is complaining about how bad their day is or they’re sharing some other tragic news. There’s an inherent dilemma we face as the reader of those posts: how do we let the person know that we read the post and sympathize without leaving a comment?*

It feels counterintuitive to Like a comment that says, “Today was the worst! Both kids threw up all over the place and then I was in a car accident!” Why would anyone Like a post like that? Wouldn’t it be the same as saying, “Yeah, your day sucks and I think that’s a good thing.” That sounds kind of sadistic, doesn’t it?. Yet we see Likes on those posts all the time (albeit fewer ones than other posts).

The Like button has morphed in meaning to include more than just agreeing or thinking something is good. In the case of these downer posts from the “woe is me” and “alas” people, Liking a post like this is almost a sign of sympathy or understanding. So it’s more like “yeah, your day sucks and I’m sorry…but I’m too lazy to say that in a comment.” Not everyone gets that though or they feel that the Like will be misunderstood so they don’t end up doing anything.

So it begs the question: why doesn’t Facebook have a Dislike button?

Its the same reason that Google+ (for all 5 of you who use it) has a +1 button and not a -1 button. It’s not positive or happy. It would be acknowledging and focusing on the bad in life. That’s too much negativity and they don’t want that on their sites.

This is actually smart on their part. Positive psychology would have us focus on all the great things in life so we can be more motivated to overcome any bad things that may come our way. Its the whole glass half full idea. Now before you go and think that Facebook is out there trying to boost everyone’s mood, they’re not. They are acting out of purely selfish motives. Any positive boost to your mood is a secondary effect to their main objective.

By reducing that negativity on their sites, Facebook and other companies are subtly encouraging you to come back and use their sites more. Your increased frequency and use allows them to extract more advertising dollars and get them to a bigger bottom line. So in the end it comes down to a sound business decision that uses psychological concepts as its basis.

Why else do you think there’s not a Dislike button on Facebook?

*Let’s face it, we prefer not to leave a comment unless we have something important, interesting, witty, or pertinent to say. It’s much easier to hit the Like button and move on which is why we Like more posts than comment on them.**

**Which is way I personally disagree with those posts that say “Like if you agree or leave a comment if you don’t.” There were a lot of these that popped up during the 2012 election where support for that’s person candidate of choice was Liked and the opponent was commented on so as to give the illusion of more popular support.

In my own words: What is flow?

I came across the concept of flow awhile back and it immediately resonated with me. It described perfectly that sense of complete immersion, focus, and motivation into a project that just commands your full attention and interest. Time stops and nothing else matters while you’re in that flow. All you care about is going with it and enjoying the ride.

Whether its researching a topic of interest, solving a puzzle, or figuring out how to do something new. Flow is that transcendent joy where you enjoy what you’re doing and “work” ceases to be work. It might not happen often, but when it hits, the creative juices are flowing and your productivity goes through the roof!

I’ve noticed that there are certain areas of interests that spark my flow and which will be the focus of this site. First and foremost is psychology. This is main reason I studied it in undergrad and then went to get my master’s in counseling. There’s something truly fascinating about the mind and studying why we do the things we do.

But my flow also kicks in when I get caught up with technology and learning how to use something new. Whether it be an app, a new website I just found out about, or an actual piece of hardware, I love technology. I also get engaged with politics, the media, film and television, business, etc. The list goes on and on. Stick around and you’ll see some of the things that grab my attention and get my flow going.