Our dear friend Devin passed away on the morning of December 14th. She is and will always be remembered in our memories as a shining soul who challenged us to be better. The type of person who does not back down from a challenge and infects you with her smile. She had an affect on people, an ability to make you want to be better when you feel like the world has defeated you. She was able to see the bigger picture and live life to the fullest. In her short 27 years, I can honestly say she left quite a hurdle to jump over in terms of her accomplishments and the relationships she was able to develop with people. She easily ascended into that next level of being, something we all wish to do one day before our time is called. Her passing has reignited my faith and curiosity in life after death. Instead of closing off and letting myself be scared and ruled by fear, I choose to stand up and face my demons. We all have them and they get the better part of us some days more than others but we must never lose the war. I believe more than ever in life as the journey of the soul where every choice we make and every life we touch elevates us to a higher level. Rest in peace devin, we shall share your devine light again one day.
This weekend I read a laudable motivational piece of literature by Dan Crosby titled “You’re not that great”. Throughout the book Dan uses quotidian references to explain the ideas behind the psychology of things we are exposed to from a young age. Dan explains that because these ideas were embedded in our memory at such a young age; they are more heavily weighed on and easier to draw from. The imbuing topic of his book is that people tend to pursuit ideas they think will impress those around them. People have a tendency to belie themselves by benchmarking their progress and ideas to that of their fellow peers. Thusly, he talks about Aristotle’s theory on the nobility of a man whose goal is to be better than he once was instead of aiming to be better than his fellow man. The notion behind trying to control the things you are incapable of controlling and the stress related factors that encumbrance you otherwise. This way your success is tantamount on the effort and work you put in rather than an outcome from the failure of your peer.
Dan talks about the vitriol views of Americans on each other that thwart our ability to progress. How we constantly label and judge others based on the sides of ourselves we despise. He talks about loss aversion and how peoples fear of losing looms larger than the idea of potential gain. I am following some of his challenges which I found interesting. One of them being a purchase of (3) books on a subject I am interested in and setting a date to have them read by. Give myself a reward if I am able to accomplish the task and a punishment if I am not. Including this book (wink, wink), I have two more left to read. “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman and “Nudge” by Richard Thaler. I set the date to have them read by June 30th. My reward is allowing myself to purchase the APR tune up for my vehicle that I have yearned for since last year. The failure to complete this task will result, not getting the upgrades for my vehicle and an additional punishment of not allowing any purchases outside the basic necessities for the month of July. In a way, I have provided myself with impunity in my outcomes but the modifications are something I really want so the challenge is on.
The most inducing take away from Dan Crosby are his points on how people in general tend to compare themselves to others thwarting their own happiness. I know I personally do this often with my peers but I have been imbued to make changes. I am making a conscious effort moving forward to really benchmark myself so that when I am looking at what progress I have made thusly, I will have an accurate reference point to look back on. Reading Dan’s book was fun, it’s a short read and if anything you’ll get a few new cool words to add to your vocabulary 🙂
The Endowment Effect
If you have ever taken an economics course, you will realize that the driving concepts in those courses tend to generalize people as highly rational. This concept is often referred to as ‘Homo Economicus’ or Economic Man. It works off of the assumption that humans tend to make economic decisions based on highly rational decisions that consider their best interest without letting emotions weigh in on decisions. Can this concept be extrapolated to encapsulate everyone?
Behavioral economic and financial psychologist Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler do not think so. In fact Richard Thaler developed a theory that people tend to over value things they own, he named it ‘The Endowment Effect’. Take a moment to think about your favorite article of clothing, would you then be willing to trade that article of clothing for something of equal or greater market value? If not, then you would be subject to the Endowment Effect.
Renowned psychologist Daniel Kahneman authored major New York Times bestseller ‘Thinking fast and slow’ where he focuses on the profound effect cognitive biases has on the general population and their ability to make sound judgment calls. He has made considerable contributions towards behavioral finance by running experiments that put the endowment effect to the test under market discipline where prices are known. However, in his test the markets were manipulated so the experiments can be considered inconclusive but the results continuously held those involved subject to the endowment effect. How does the endowment effect impact your life? You can run a simple experiment, go into your closet and grab your favorite garment. Look up its current market value with depreciation included and think if you would be willing to either sell it at the current market price or trade it for something else of equal or lesser market value.
There are anomalies to which the endowment effect will not hold true. The inception of second hand clothing stores profits from the business model where lightly used clothes can be sold or traded for store credit. This means that those willing to accept cash or store credit are overcoming the endowment effect in hopes of gaining something of greater value. The seller is happy to get rid of something they no longer value while the store creates transactions that bring in a decent profit margin. Often times these observations where the seller is not willing to sell can be explained by the notion of loss aversion; changes that make things worse loom larger than improvements or gains. If falling victim to the endowment effect is something we can be mindful of, what type of impact would that have on our Economy? Or even our individual lives? I guess that’s when taking risk can have its rewards. But really, if you awaken yourself to these notions and think of objects more as material with market value then I think will be less likely to pass an opportunity for gain when it passes you by.
A couple months ago I decided to delve into meditation. I was curious about and what good it could do for me. It was then I realized, I knew very little about how to meditate and what meditation meant. My curiosity ultimately led me to The Drikung Meditation Center (http://www.drikungboston.org/) where I learned how to take initial steps towards meditation and how Tibetan monks had been practicing this for centuries as part of their daily praying rituals. The experience was very pleasing, I met some very interesting folks there who were drawn there for similar reasons of seeking peace and spiritual awareness. However, the location and timing was inconvenient for me to continue attending on a regular basis. I was also seeking a curriculum where I can learn solely on the aspects of meditation. As my search continued, I read books like “The Art of Learning” by Joshua Waitzkin and “Emotional Awareness” a conversation between Dr. Paul Ekman and the Dalai Llama with the foreword by Daniel Goleman. I was learning but I needed more, I needed some instruction to better guide my learning. I ran an online search for a meditation center in Boston and found the Shambhala Meditation center (http://boston.shambhala.org/) located in Brookline. I just visited the center with a friend this past weekend and I was able to tie many of learning points together. I went to the center on Sunday for their introduction to meditation class.
First, I learned that I should get in the habit of meditating with my eyes open. The reason behind this being that in order to fully occupy the mind and body, you need to have all the sensors be activated, this was the idea behind mind-ful-ness. We were instructed by Brandon, a man in his early thirties who has been an avid practitioner for the past 15 years since graduating college. He initially struck me as a little off but I think he really gets it, I learned a lot from his instruction over the course of an hour or so. He explained that mindfulness was the idea of keeping our mind fully occupied, the by product of this would then be awareness. The awareness of the mind and the awareness of the body. I realized that both are not always in sync and that is why I inadvertently found myself making decisions I was not in full accordance with. To be present is to have your mind and body synced on one frequency so that every decision you are making is coming from absolute awareness.
There have been times in my past where I have felt mind and body present and I wondered what causes them to fall out of sync. I think being present is something everyone experiences at moments and then loses when they embark on actions that are not representative of who they are, that would be what leads to losing yourself. However, I truly believe that through practice (meditation), one can remain in a state of being present. In Joshua Waitzkins novel, he discusses the idea behind being present in every moment until at one point being present become likes breathing. I can only imagine the dedication and focus this takes in order to accomplish.
Does the subjunctive have a dark side?
I heard this interview over the weekend and thought it was ingenious! I never thought about the power of the subjunctive. In the interview, Phuc Tran delivers the idea: “when employed at the right time, grammar can help bring the world into sharp focus, and when used at the wrong time it can make things incredibly blurry.”
Body language accounts for 93% of all of our communication and yet we are never given any real lessons on it….Why is that??