7 WordPress Plugins Every Site Should Have

Lately, I've been finding myself creating new wordpress websites - three in the past month, to be exact. As a result, I've gotten an idea of what plugins are necessary in order for it to survive and thrive. 

First, what are plugins? Basically, plugins are to your site what apps are to your phone. Plugins are pieces of software that you can add on top of wordpress so that your site can do more of what you want it to do. 

The following are all the plugins I would install immediately after setting up the site. 

First I will list all of the "essential" plugins, then the ones that are very useful but depending on what you are trying to do with your site.

Essential Plugins

WordFencethis is a very important plugin, as it has to do with security. It constantly checks your website for malware and hacking attempts. 

UpdraftPlusAt any moment, something could go wrong with your site - you could get hacked, your server crashes, you accidentally delete important code etc. When that happens having a recent backup of your website is extremely important, and that's what UpdraftPlus does. It backs up your website periodically.

Auto Terms of Service & Privacy Policy this is a fast way for you to create terms of service and privacy policy pages. Usually you want to have these to cover yourself from legal trouble. 

Yoast SEO this plugin is very important because it helps you determine how your site looks on google. It also allows you to determine what picture and text you want to show when you link a certain page on social media. 

Google Analytics this plugin helps you see how visitors find and use your website. For example, it shows you what people googled to find your website. 

WP Super Cache I honestly don't know how this plugin works but it somehow makes your site load faster.

Really Simple SSLif you look up on your browser, next to this url you should see a green lock and the word "secure." This is an SSL certificate and it helps users determine whether they should feel safe entering their information on a form. Even though your site may have the certificate, sometimes it may say it's "not secure" and scare away users. This plugin is a way to make sure that doesn't happen. 

Optional

Tidio Live Chat - live chat is a great way to engage customers. This one not only does that but it also keeps track of who visits your website and allows you to contact them as they are visiting. That's a pretty cool feature if you ask me. 

Facebook Live Chat don't let the name fool you; this plugin is a lot more than a live chat. It has things like floating share buttons and a scroll to the top button (you can see them on this site currently). This is a great plugin for a local store because it has a floating "store location" button that, when you click it, a map pops up. It also has floating testimonials, among many other things.

Any page builder - page builders are amazing tools; they let you quickly and effortlessly build highly customized pages. I like to use Thrive Architect which is not free, but there are others that have good, free versions such as Elementor and Brizy

In Response to Jordan Peterson’s Parenting Advice (Rebuttal)

In Response to Jordan Peterson’s Parenting Advice (Rebuttal)

I have many concerns with Jordan B. Peterson's advice on parenting. Going into his book, I already knew that my views on the matter differed, but I didn't expect it to be by such a wide margin.

Full disclosure: I have little experience with children. However, studying how one can best raise children has been a focus of mine for more than 5 years. I partly pursue this because it's a great form of self-therapy and partly because I want to eventually use what I learn to be the best parent I can be (if I ever become one).

It's also worth noting that I was once a child and I've spent a lot of time trying to make sense of that time. Because of this, I think I can bring a special, though by no means complete, perspective on the subject. 

Introduction

In his book, particularly chapter 5, JBP promotes the use of behaviorism on children. To be clear, this is a parenting style that is already the norm. Everyone I know was raised with this method, including me. Most parents do use rewards and punishments to get children to behave and to "teach" them to stay out of danger. Under threat, they are made to say please and thank you, share with others, be quiet in public etc. Almost all schools use rewards and punishments too. 

With this method, the reason why children do the actions you wish to see does not matter. What matters is that they appear to emulate good behavior. 

What Peterson seems to be going for is a refinement of behaviorism, but I think that's a very low bar to aim for. Aim higher, Peterson! I think there is an even better method altogether, a method that exists outside the paradigm of manipulation. I'm talking about parenting with Nonviolent Communication (or NVC). In short, this is a method that views the parent/child relationship as a partnership rather than a perpetual fight for dominance. Kind of like any truly healthy relationship. With this method, it is understood that connection, rather than manipulation, is the best path to get our needs met in the long-term. 

Side note: I'd also refer to this approach as peaceful parenting, attachment parenting, or parenting with an unschooling philosophy.

JPB's Perspective Vs NVC

In chapter 5, JBP presents many false dichotomies of how you can treat children:

  • You can chastise them, or overlook unwanted behavior
  • You can discipline them, or neglect them
  • You can control them, or let them live a life of chaos
  • Be strict, or be permissive
  • Dominate them, or be dominated

I don't think he's aware that these are false dichotomies. It's likely that he, like most other people, just doesn't know that there are other possibilities. I think this is because he has been blinded by the language that our society uses. His religious beliefs probably also have something to do with it. After all, his convictions align well with the idea of original sin and "spare the rod, spoil the child."

JBP generally sees people through the lens of good and bad. He says everyone has the potential of being bad and extends that ability to children, saying that it is naive and dangerous to not see them this way. Well, call me naive if you want but I don't see anybody that way. Not because I think it's impossible for people to do evil things, but because I think it's counterproductive to see people through that lens. This is especially true for people with whom you want to be in a long-term relationship with. I'd say that such moralistic judgments can only impede the possibility of getting our needs met.

Marshall B. Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication wrote:

"It is my belief that all such analyses of other human beings are tragic expressions of our own needs. They are tragic because when we express our values and needs in this form, we increase defensiveness and resistance among the very people whose behaviors are of concern to us."

I would echo Rosenberg's statement because I've personally experienced it both as a child and as an adult. I think the logic of it is pretty much universal; just think of the last time you felt your whole character being judged. Think of when you were called bad, annoying, inconsiderate etc. Did it make you want to understand and accommodate the person more, or less?

Another thing is that, since children are both defenseless and reliant on you for information, they might start to believe in the negative, one-dimensional labels that you put on them, making it harder for them to grow out of the very habits you don't like. 

Instead of jumping the gun on moralistic judgments, what if you directly expressed what you felt and needed? Isn't that more likely to get results? Granted, using NVC will not always get you the result that you desire, but my point is that making moralistic judgments will never do you any better. 

Throughout this chapter and several other talks, Peterson uses many uncharitable labels on children. He has called them names like "little monsters," "rats," "devils," "brats," "blighters," and "varmint." To me, this is horrifying. He probably doesn't say those words to them directly, but there's no doubt that it shapes his attitude towards them. 

That is what Rosenberg would call "life-alienating language." It is a language which instills the idea that the other is less than human and therefore less deserving of empathy and compassion. It gives us the green light to implement behaviorism on kids as if they were no different than rats.

In the chapter, when JBP was trying to get a child to eat, he likened it to a war. When I read this, it reminded me of George Lakeloff and Mark Johnson's book, Metaphors We Live By. In it, they argued that the metaphors we use determine how we live our lives. There's a relevant passage where they talk about arguments, which I think could also apply to our interactions with children:

It is important to see that we don't just talk about arguments in terms of war. We can actually win or lose arguments. We see the person we are arguing with as an opponent. We attack his positions and we defend our own. We gain and lose ground. We plan and use strategies. If we find a position indefensible, we can abandon it and take a new line of attack. Many of the things we do in arguing are partially structured by the concept of war. Though there is no physical battle, there is a verbal battle, and the structure of an argument—attack, defense, counter-attack, etc.—reflects this. It is in this sense that the ARGUMENT IS WAR metaphor is one that we live by in this culture; it structures the actions we perform in arguing.
Try to imagine a culture where arguments are not viewed in terms of war, where no one wins or loses, where there is no sense of attacking or defending, gaining or losing ground. Imagine a culture where an argument is viewed as a dance, the participants are seen as performers, and the goal is to perform in a balanced and aesthetically pleasing way. In such a culture, people would view arguments differently, experience them differently, carry them out differently, and talk about them differently.

Imagine how much more fruitful every debate would be if we did that.

Just like the "argument is war" metaphor, I believe thinking of a child as an opponent whom you must dominate causes unnecessary friction and stagnates progress. It prevents us from discovering amazing possibilities in parenting.

Now, it is true that because of the immense power disparity of the relationship, parents can just ignore this mombo jumbo and force a child to do pretty much anything on command (unless they have a very strong-willed child, that is). Other than it being morally reprehensible to abuse such power, I want to warn people that it is likely to cause many long-term consequences. Consequences which JBP does not address. 

The Dangers of Behaviorism

Jordan Peterson was very good at showing the potential horrors of permissive parenting (something I'm not advocating for, it's just the only alternative that he offers) but he didn't present any potential horrors of behaviorism. So I think I'll do that.

Here are some of the negative consequences that can come out of behaviorism. For more detailed explanations, plus the evidence to back them up, I'd recommend Alfie Kohn's books, Punished by Rewards and Unconditional Parenting.

It neglects intrinsic motivation. Behaviorism is like a trainer lifting your arm while you hold a dumbbell and calling it exercise. Since they are being made to do things under threat of punishment or promise of reward, children are denied the opportunity to have their actions be their own. What do you think will happen when the external motivation isn't there anymore? Do you think the child will still behave? I don't think so. With behaviorism, children never truly learn discipline or to be good. (Can a person who is forced to "be good" actually be good anyway?) They simply haven't utilized their internal motivation when they do those things.

I wrote something that exemplifies this in a post called The Problem With Making Kids Say “Thank You”

It makes them reliant on behaviorism. Sometimes when you coerce a child to behave a certain way it does end up sticking, but it comes at the cost of making them dependent on external pressure. You can see this in people who promise themselves a treat if they do something good or go down a path of self-loathing if they fail.  They are conditioned to need external motivation to be good or to have discipline. 

Coercing them may make them hate the very thing you want them to do. I think this is self-explanatory. 

Depression. One of the most important requirements for happiness is a sense of autonomy. With behaviorism, children grow up to act based on pressure rather than a real sense of choice. We need the ability to choose our own actions and goals. When your behavior is being controlled by your parents and school, you are being denied the opportunity to pursue your own goals let alone ever find out what they are. If children are raised on behaviorism, their joy comes from other people's approval. And even then, it's a short-lived kind of joy.

I know Peterson doesn't think happiness is a worthwhile goal, but it's also worth noting that depression impedes people from reaching even a goal that Peterson would approve of, so he shouldn't perpetuate it if he can help it. 

It forces them to prioritize appeasing authority over learning about and conquering reality. Under behaviorism, kids have no reason to care about the behavior you want them to do, but they have all the reason care about getting the reward and avoiding the punishment. When they are made to suffer for misbehaving, they don't learn that such behavior is wrong or dangerous, rather they learn that displeasing the parent is wrong or dangerous. Therefore, they learn to conduct themselves based on the ones who hold the hammer rather than reality. Sometimes it only makes them become more sneaky so as to not get caught.

It erodes the relationship. As you can see from the previous point, it encourages children to be dishonest with the parent. This is where I believe the "rebellious teenage years" come from. When the parent is a source of what's making them suffer, they become another entity that should be avoided. This means that the parents will have less of an influence on their children's lives. Especially when they grow older and the power of rewards and punishments doesn't hold the same effect anymore. 

It teaches them to repress their emotions. In chapter 2, Jordan wonders why people care more for others than they do for themselves. I think this is at least partially the answer. Thanks to behaviorism, they are taught that their own emotions and needs are not a priority over the people who hold power. They are taught that their own emotions and needs are to be repressed if they want to live harmoniously with a parent. 

I can easily see this leading to collectivism, which ironically is what Jordan is trying to steer people away from.


I know these things can happen because I've experienced them. I was actually one of those defiant children who refused any type of manipulation. Each attempt at controlling me resulted in resistance, which then caused more drastic methods to control me, which resulted in more resistance. I eventually became numb to any type of reward and punishment coming both from my parents and schools. In the process, my relationship with my parents deteriorated and they lost any real influence they had on me. William Glasser nailed my experience when he wrote:

The vast majority of unhappiness [in the parent-child relationship] is the result of well-intentioned parents trying to make children do what they don’t want to do….  Few of us [parents] are prepared to accept that it is our attempts to control that destroys the only thing we have with our children that gives us some [influence] over them, our relationship.

Today, I have a strong drive to be polite and well liked. I'm also on my way to becoming successful by my own standards. I can assure you this didn't come from other people trying to force me to be like this. In reality, I always had a strong need for my values to be intrinsic. I remember having that need back then, though I couldn't have articulated it.

The idea that a parent might interpret the way children express their needs as "malicious" is extremely unfortunate.

I'm barely starting to trust the fact that I have in me the need and ability to become a good human being; that I don't need external control to lead a life of meaning and discipline. This trust in myself could have been instilled in me way earlier if it wasn't for behaviorism.

I know what would have worked better. I know for a fact that my parents would have gotten more of what they wanted out of me if they started from a place of trust and respect rather than fear for my future. I know it's impossible to prove a counterfactual, but after learning about myself and recollecting what was going on inside my head back then, I can say that more compassion and empathy in place of "tough love" would have set me up for a better life, not to mention a better relationship with my parents. 

Some Resources

There is so much great content out there that can enlighten us on different ways to handle situations without behaviorism. Here are just some of them to get you started.

This is a great conference talk by Roslyn Ross, where she explains why behaviorism leads to collectivism and some solutions:

I'd also recommend Roslyn's blog

Unruffled by Janet Lansbury. This is a podcast where Landsbury answers questions about specific situations. In there, you can find a peaceful solution to every situation Jordan Peterson gave an example of: how to deal with children that don't want to sleep/eat or when they hit etc.

Here's a pertinent episode: Stop Making Mealtime A Challenge. I think you'd be interested in comparing it to Jordan Peterson's forceful approach. 

Lastly, I highly recommend Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. This book gives you a better way of getting what you want without using rewards and threats, which, in my opinion, is not very effective in the first place. 

Peaceful alternatives are out there. Using rewards and punishments necessarily limits our ability to find better solutions. Even Jordan Peterson would agree that restrictions lead to creativity, so let's follow this wisdom and restrict our ability to approach kids with behaviorism. If you do this I think you'd be surprised by the possibilities. 

P.S. If you want to hear other counterpoints to Jordan's parenting approach I 'd like to direct you to this episode of The Voluntary Life. Jake Desyllas has great points that I just can't fit in this post.

What I Learned by Running a Mile Every Day for 100 Days

What I Learned by Running a Mile Every Day for 100 Days

On March 20, I challenged myself to run at least 1 mile a day for 30 days and decided to document it on my Instagram. I started this challenge because I wanted to develop discipline and prove to myself that I could accomplish a long-term goal. After 30 days I didn't want to stop so I told myself I'd do 60, then 100. 

At this point, I don't know when I'll stop, but what I do know is that I've benefited so much already. I feel that I've grown in this period of time at a faster rate than ever before. Well, maybe I grew at a faster rate when I was a toddler. For example, I went from crawling to walking in just one day. Now that's a really big improvement in life if you ask me.

Anyway, here are the cool insights I've gathered by running a mile every day for 100 days straight. 

It Does Get Easier

I know it seems like this should be obvious but let me tell you, it wasn't obvious after the 30th or even the 60th day. There were lots of days when I did the bare minimum and wondered if 1 mile would ever feel like a piece of cake.  Now I can say that it does feel that way more often than not. Don't get me wrong, there are still days when I reeeeaally don't feel like running, but once I get out there that feeling usually goes away and I'm done before I know it.

Without any rest days, I thought I'd be exhausted by now, or that my legs would wear down, but that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I was recently able to run 13 miles (my longest run yet) and in two days I was ready to go hard at it again. No soreness whatsoever. 

Of course, this can only happen if I take care of my body, which gets me to my next point. 

It Leads To Other Healthy Habits

I drink water now! Hooray!

Before this challenge, I sometimes went days without drinking any water. Now I can't afford to do that, so it doesn't happen anymore. 

I know that if I eat chips or drink soda, I will soon feel weak and not have the necessary energy to do a long run. I had to go through a few runs where a felt extremely weak before I learned that lesson. 

Because I work on my body constantly, I simply don't feel okay with mistreating it anymore.

Side note: I've found that I get great results if my pre-run meal is just a protein shake. It sits a lot lighter in my stomach and gives me long-lasting energy. I especially like a vanilla protein powder and a banana mixed in with coconut milk. 

You Can Learn To Love Things That Make You Uncomfortable

If you told me I would learn to love running a few months ago, I wouldn't believe you. I just couldn't fathom liking something that brought so much discomfort. In fact, I still can't fully understand it; I just merely feel it. 

I started running almost a year ago but I only did it for health, not for fun. Now, the health part is just a bonus. 

Before I started this challenge, I would dread the days when I've committed myself to run more than the minimum. Like when I ran with my local running club, for example. Now I have no fear of that inevitable pain. And during the runs, I don't constantly wish for the pain to end. 

Because of this challenge I learned to be okay with being uncomfortable. 

It Increases Self-Efficacy

There's no denying it: a daily dose of accomplishment does wonders to your psyche.

Every day I have accomplished a goal I set for myself, thus increasing my confidence to accomplish things. Running every day has changed the way I approach new goals, tasks and challanges. I'm now more of an optimist and risk taker.

A case in point is when I took the initiative to create a website for my local running club even though I had no coding knowledge. I don't think my past self would have done that. 

Photo by aquachara on Unsplash

My Favorite Podcast Eps (of This Week)

My Favorite Podcast Eps (of This Week)

The Minimalists, "Direction"

I listen to The Minimalists from time to time, but when I saw that TK Coleman guested on this one, I couldn't devour it fast enough. This episode did not disappoint. It was packed with advice that was very pertinent to me, as I often feel directionless. This episode calmed my fear over feeling directionless by putting it into perspective.  

One piece of advice that I implemented as a result of this episode is Joshua's idea of using "simple triggers" to create a new habit. Like him, I'm also doing pull-ups every time I pass by my pull-up bar.

Here's a short clip in which TK explains why we sometimes can't motivate ourselves to do what we love:


This is an interview Sam Harris conducted with serial entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who is actually running for president in 2020. I've heard a bit about UBI in the past but I never took it seriously; I thought implementing it would immediately lead to disaster. Now I'm not so sure. Yang is proposing a policy in which everyone would get 1k a month. I'm still against the idea on moral grounds, but this episode made me realize that this is not such a ridiculous idea compared to what the government is doing right now in terms of welfare, and it could be pulled off fairly easily. 

It also had me thinking that what AI is doing to the workforce is unlike the industrial revolution and that there won't be a solution other than UBI. Maybe.


This podcast always makes me happy. Just a bunch of singing and silliness. This is a podcast where the two hosts and the guest improvise a whole musical. Yes, it is as crazy as it sounds. This episode had Eugene Cordero, who is one of my favorite improvisers. Not much else to say about this. Just listen to it if ever you feel like smiling. 

Here's a clip after they're done with the main story and do a fun little rap involving working out and the alphabet:


This is a podcast that I just discovered. I listened to all episodes in one day. They were all so interesting to me, covering topics from dating apps to extraterrestrial life. For such short episodes the host, Derek Thompson was able to pack it with so much information. I really liked how he approached the same topics from multiple angles, giving us a nuanced perspective: not too optimistic and not too pessimistic. 

I had to choose one episode but I highly recommend the rest. Listen to "Why Haven't We Found Aliens?" if you want to get your mind blown. 

The Lost Art of Loving Movies

The Lost Art of Loving Movies

Remember when you were a kid and every movie you saw was the most amazing thing ever? Remember that sense of wonder? That feeling that what you saw on the screen was actually real? Ever since, you've been chasing that dragon, haven't you? Sometimes you find a movie that gets you close, but it's not quite the same.

What if I told you that it's possible to get that feeling from every movie? That's right, and all you have to do is take some of that responsibility on yourself rather than put it all on the filmmakers. In a way, that's what you did when you were a child; you were more committed to suspending disbelief and accepting whatever was in front of you as "true."

Regaining A Childlike Mind

I think it's valuable to have a curious, childlike mind when it comes to experiencing art; that's what allows us to find joy and meaning out of it. Without that mindset, we become too rigid and categorical, and we end up getting less and less enjoyment out of life.

It's tragic that this optimistic approach to movie-watching is looked down upon. Whenever someone expresses nothing but awe for a movie, they are met with accusations of "being a fanboy" or "not having a sophisticated taste." I think those common put-downs turn more and more people into cynics, where it's harder to suspend disbelief. Because nobody wants to be thought of as "gullible."

What they don't see is that this "gullibility" is the key to finding that joy that we as moviegoers are always searching for.

Pessimism Isn't Cool

Maybe it's time to stop having pride for being unimpressed by movies. After all, it comes out of a sense of entitlement. All you have to do is sit back and relax as the filmmaker fails to please you.

With that said, I can hear people responding with "but I paid to see the movie, therefore it's their job to please me." I hear you there, but unfortunately, this complaint is not going to get you anywhere. The movie is a done deal and you're not going to get back the time you spent watching it. Unless you have a large audience, your complaint will have no influence on future films, and even then it's still unlikely to make a difference.

Instead, it's better to focus on what you have the most control over, which is how you experience a movie.

To make sure you enjoy your experience, you have to stop being a lazy consumer and take a more proactive approach. It may sound like work, but if you end of finding more joy out of it, by definition it would have been worth it.

It requires creativity to take some of that burden on yourself and fill the gaps that the creators may have missed.

Now that's what should be admired in my opinion: someone who has the courage to look beyond what bothers them in a movie in order to see the aspects that bring them joy.

Don't Expect Others to Suspend Your Disbelief

Sometimes, to enjoy something you need creativity; to view things from a different perspective. For example, I am able to enjoy running because I have the perspective of doing something that's healthy and accomplishing something that's challenging.

If I only focused on the discomfort that running brought, I wouldn't enjoy it. Similarly, if I only focused on the things that reduced my ability to suspend disbelief, I wouldn't enjoy it.

Stop being so easy when it comes to being "taken out of" a movie. If you see bad acting, just tell yourself that's how that character would act. If the CGI is not up to par, ignore it, or just think to yourself "that's how it would really look like in that universe." If you see a convenient coincidence, think it's just that, a convenient coincidence. If you see a common movie trope, just think as if that's the first time you've seen it.

Experiencing art in such a way that you find it fun is an art of its own.

In short, try to bring yourself back to when you were a kid. Try to see the beauty (or horror if you see a horror film) in everything that you see. I know this was easier when you were younger, but that doesn't mean it's impossible now.

I've been doing this for a long time and it has really worked. As a result, I've laughed, cried, and been enthralled by more movies than ever before. After pretty much every movie, I come out feeling amazed.

Conclusion

I know some people get a kick out of bashing movies. This post is not for them; it's for the people who are not aware that it doesn't have to be that way, who might find more joy out of this other way of experiencing art.

But to the people who do enjoy focusing on the flaws in movies, I'd like to tell them to be careful that this pessimistic approach doesn't translate into other things in their lives, such as in exercise and relationships.

Life is too short to not try to find joy in everything you consume.


Photo by Julien Andrieux on Unsplash

Love Shouldn’t Be Flexible

Love Shouldn’t Be Flexible

Most people have a rather flexible definition of love, which renders the word meaningless. For example, they say they love their respectful and honest partner while at the same time loving their disrespectful and abusive parents. Or maybe they say they love their child while treating them like he's less than human by beating them, lying to them, or being emotionally abusive. 

From my perspective, love necessarily includes respect. It involves a commitment to being as honest and understanding as possible. You can have your own definition of love, but whatever it is, I suggest you define it well. And stick to it.

If you love someone who treats you badly and at the same time you love someone who treats you with respect, then I think you have a problem. You either have to define one as a different kind of love or stop saying that you love one of those people.

But why fix this contradiction, you may ask.

For one, it is insulting to the person who treats you one way to say that you love them in the same way that you love a person that treats you the opposite. If that person is smart enough, they will notice that you have a screwed up view of love, and will not give too much weight to your words. If they're even smarter, they would avoid being in a relationship with you in the first place. 

If the person is completely okay with your loose definition of love, then watch out. It may mean that they are looking to take advantage of you since they know that you will still love them anyway.

If your definition of love is loose enough to include disrespect and abuse, you will run the danger of inviting disrespectful and abusive people into your life and repelling good people out of it.  

Alternatively, you may end up inviting your own disrespect and abuse towards the people who you claim to love. 

Open Loops

In Getting Things Done, David Allen introduces the concept of "open loops."

These are commitments or agreements you made with yourself that are stuck in your mind. They're the things that constantly pop into your head and bother you when you haven't done them yet.

I'm the king of open loops.

There are so many things that I tell myself to do, they pile up, and as a result I become stressed and unproductive.

Even if it was just a couple, I'm realizing that those commitments don't have to stay in my mind, that they use up my valuable decision-making energy that could find better use on actual work. Our brains are just not optimized for juggling commitments - that's what note-taking tools are for!

Between the time you woke up today and now, did you think of anything you needed to do that you still haven’t done? Have you had that thought more than once? Why? It’s a waste of time and energy to keep thinking about something that you make no progress on. And it only adds to your anxiety about what you should be doing and aren’t. (pg. 18)

This has been such a big part of my waking life. Thinking about the things I haven't done and being anxious about it has been as normal as breathing. It also has done nothing but paralyze me. 

Some of these open loops for me include reading a certain book, starting a podcast, writing an article on a certain topic, contacting a potential mentor or someone to collaborate with etc. 

Sometimes I start the task but never finish it, leaving that loop forever open and as a result forever a source of stress. 

I'm becoming aware of just how much this mismanagement of commitments has been taxing me. I'm getting exhausted just thinking about it. 

It's such a relief to find out that it doesn't have to be that way.

“Thinking in a concentrated manner to define desired outcomes and requisite next actions is something few people feel they have to do (until they have to). But in truth, it is the most effective means available for making wishes a reality.” (pg 16)

I need clear definitions of the outcomes I desire and the next action required. As David Allen wrote, I need to "transform all the 'stuff' I've  attracted and accumulated into a clear inventory of meaningful actions, projects, and usable information." I need to "gather everything that requires thinking about and then do that thinking" if my organizational efforts are to be successful. 

My plan for the next couple of days is to write down what my commitments are, clarify their meaning and required steps to achieve them, and have them in a system where I can regularly check up on them. Just as David Allen suggested. 

I plan to do this on notion.so because I hear it's one of the best apps for notes and tasks.

It's about time I close some damn loops. 

Growing Up Fatherless and the Importance of Introspection

Growing Up Fatherless and the Importance of Introspection

I remember exactly when I became keen on the importance of analyzing my past. It was when I was 18, just beginning my first year of college. I was listening to a podcast while I waited for my next class. The podcast was just a regular conversation between two intellectuals, but they touched on something very relevant to me. That "something" was the psychological effects of growing up in a fatherless home. 

As they described the ramifications, which were based on studies, I felt as if they were describing ME. I was floored. "How could they know me so well?" I thought.

Because of this conversation, I learned that growing up fatherless greatly contributed to my low self-esteem, social anxiety, and depression. I didn't even need to look at the studies - once I made the connection, it made perfect sense. I just needed someone to point it out for me. 

The truth was that my father's absence created a deep feeling of unworthiness. This is a big reason why I was never able to form long-lasting relationships and why I did so much to sabotage my life. 

The most important thing that I learned is that I couldn't possibly expect these issues to disappear without doing a lot of introspection first. Because to permanently fix an issue, you have to understand where it came from in the first place. 

Looking back on this realization, it is really surprising how I didn't know something so simple. Before this, I was not aware of the factors that contributed to my issues. I knew that there were factors, but when it came to articulating them, I was completely lost. I was never given the mental tools to decipher them. 

Come to think of it, I remember consciously thinking that I was strong enough to be unaffected by the fact that my father left me. I was even proud of the fact that I never cried over it. I now realize I was being delusional. Gowing up fatherless did have a huge effect on me and being ignorant of the fact only prevented me from removing (or at least mitigating) that effect. 

How has the importance of looking at my past eluded me for so long? Why didn't my school or family teach me this? If the knowledge of the damaging effects of fatherlessness was kept from me, then what else?

Radical Self-Acceptance

Radical Self-Acceptance

Today I started reading Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. It crossed my radar because Tim Ferris has strongly recommended it in the past. I gotta say, so far it's looking to be a book that I didn't know I so desperately needed. 

In the beginning, Dr Brach told a story of a woman who was on her deathbed. Before she passed, she was able to reveal this profound and heartbreaking insight to her daughter:

You know, all my life I thought something was wrong with me

For me, this really hit close to home because it's what I believed for so much of my life. It also made me think of how horribly damaging this feeling of unworthiness can be. For example, it can lead to a drug addiction or dependence upon an abusive partner. 

This is not part of the book (at least not that I'm aware of yet) but I think this feeling of unworthiness exists largely because of how we are treated as children. It comes from being told that we are "bad" or "wrong" for expressing ourselves in such a way that an adult doesn't approve of. 

In a more indirect way, it can also come from the belief in original sin.

Evidently, most of us are raised so that our acceptance of ourselves is strongly tethered to how others feel about us. The stronger this connection is made the more fragile we are. And the more fragile we are, the more we suffer. Think of the people who gauge how they feel by the number of "likes" that they get. 

I think a mentally healthy person generally has an opinion of himself which is unmoved by what others think of him. (Of course, this is excluding the close people who he respects). I think this is a path to true happiness. Or at least a path away from suffering. 

I desperately don't want to live the rest of my life feeling unworthy. Luckily I've already made great progress in getting that out of my system. And I have this blogging journey to thank for that. I'm slowly but surely disconnecting what others think of me from what I think of myself. So far, this has done so much for my own happiness.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to learning the insights that Brach's book has to offer.

Featured image by Grant Ritchie on Unsplash

Parents Should Be the Most Charitable Interpreters of Their Own Kids

Children a) are powerless and b) don't yet have all the mental tools to express their feelings and needs effectively. (Though I'm afraid "b" is not exclusive to kids)

Instead of assuming "bad behavior" or "disrespect" or "he's trying to dominate me" whenever children do something they don't like, parents should assume "they don't know better ways to express themselves yet" or "they haven't had enough practice." 

The former interpretation will cause anger and an attempt (often in the form of punishment) to repress the child's present and future attempts at self-expression. The latter will allow the parent to react compassionately and actually teach the child better tools of self-expression. 

I guarantee parents will have better results doing it that way. It will also create mentally healthy adults who DO know how to express themselves effectively.

Children need guidance, not punishments.