Saturday, August 27, 2016

Benjamin Franklin's 13 Virtues in Life

Throughout history, people have been concerned about figuring out their values and trying to live by them. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), the American printer, author, diplomat, and scientist, was one of the writers of the Declaration of Independence. He also helped draft the U.S. Constitution. In his autobiography, Franklin explains how he tried to change his behaviour by describing and then trying to live by his values, which he called “virtues.” How are Franklin’s value applicable today? Which is Franklin’s values do you share?

The Thirteen Virtues

1)    Temperance: Eat not to dullness. Drink not to elevation.
2)    Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
3)    Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
4)    Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
5)    Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself, i.e. waste nothing.
6)    Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
7)    Sincerity: Use no harmful deceit. Think innocently and justly; if you speak, speak accordingly.
8)    Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9)    Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10) Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
11) Tranquillity: Be not disturbed at trifles or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12) Chastity: Rarely use venery* but for health or offspring – never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
13) Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
[Taken from: Franklin Benjamin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and Selections from His Other Writings. New York: Random House, 1994, pg. 93-95. *Sexual activity.]

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How to Increase Synapses In Your Brain

Back in the 1970s a neuroscientist by the name of Bill Greenough did some experiments with rats and their living accommodation. One poor group of rats drew the short straw and ended up living alone with nothing to do. The other group were bestowed and comparatively plush surroundings. They had exercise wheels, ladders to climb, and other rats to talk to. Greenough called it ‘the rat equivalent of Disneyland.’ These lucky rats soon became noticeably more physically and socially active, as far as laboratory rats can.

Things became really interesting when their brains were later examined. The ‘enriched’ environment rats had 25% more synapses (connections between a neuron and another cell) per neutron than their poor relatives. These additional synapses meant the rats were cleaverer and quicker to find their way through mazes and were able to learn landmarks faster.
[Source: Make Your Brain Work (2013) by Amy Brann. Pg. 26]

By enriching your world – be physically active and be more socialable,
you are going to upgrade your brain, making it easier and quicker
for you to work things out in the future.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Focus Repetition Will Make You Think Faster

But then, Caesar from 'Planet of the Apes' is too smart
Michael M. Merzenich is famous for many experiments with monkeys. In one he trained a monkey to touch a spinning disk with a certain amount of pressure for a certain amount of time. The monkey was then rewarded with a banana pellet reward. The monkey’s brain was mapped before and after the experiments. What happened has huge implications. The overall area of that particular map in the monkey’s brain got bigger. This makes sense as more brain resources are being dedicated to the more frequently carried out tasks. The individual neuron’s receptive fields got smaller – more accurate – and only fired when small corresponding parts of its fingertip touched the disk. So there were more accurate neurons available to do this task.

Here’s where things get really fascinating. Merzenich found that as these trained neurons got more efficient they processed faster. This means that our speed of thought is plastic. Through deliberate, focused repetition our neurons are being trained to fire more quickly. They also don’t need to rest for as long between actions. Imagine how much more powerful and effective you would be if you could think quicker. It doesn’t even stop there, the faster the communications, the clearer, so more likely to fire in sync with other fast communications ultimately making more powerful networks. More powerful networks or messages make it more likely we’ll remember something.
[Source: Make Your Brain Work (2013) by Amy Brann. Pg. 24]

So if you want the benefit of faster thinking capacity
and the ability to recall things easily in the future,
then you need to pay conscious attention to one thing at a time.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Change Your Life: [Pursue Your [Passion] will Move Men Beyond Themselves]

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, sold something more than computers and gadgets. He sold emotion and passion. When he first presented the iPad to the world, he repeatedly said, “It’s just so amazing to hold.” There was obviously a genuine love for the product, a real passion for what his company had created.

Once, Jobs was fired from the company he started, and he considered leaving Silicon Valley forever. However, he realized that, though he had been rejected, he still loved what he did, and he started over – this time with NeXT and Pixar, with the latter becoming a tremendous success.

Even if we have no aspiration to become the next high-tech megastar, we can all learn from the way Steve Jobs lived his life. In 2005, when he delivered the commencement speech at Stanford University, he shared some invaluable advice with the young graduates: “You time is limited, so don’t spend it living someone else’s life… have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Pursuing your passions may or may not lead to material or public success; however, regardless of external success, life is short, and finding small ways to express your inner, authentic voice at work, at home, or with your friends is perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself and the world.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Here's to the Crazy Ones, the Unreasonable People

When Steve Jobs launched Apple’s iconic “Think Different” marketing campaign in 1997, it was clearly a reflection of his own philosophy and ideals. He praised “the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.” Nobody would disagree that Jobs himself personified this category, along with the famous individuals who were featured in Apple’s ads, such as Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., Sir Richard Branson, John Lennon, Thomas Edison, Ted Turner, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Martha Graham, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Pablo Picasso.

By their nature, radical innovators tend to be contrarians, heretics, revolutionaries. They are forever discontent with the status quo. They are people who challenge conventional thinking, who show no respect for rules, or precedent, or popular opinion, and who never accept “can’t be done.” They dare to defy the deepest-held dogmas, dispute the most established industry practices, and trash the proudest of institutional legacies. Where everyone else seems content to “zig,” they feel compelled to “zag” – to swim against the mainstream, contradict prevailing wisdom, break the accepted patterns, slaughter the sacred cows, question the unquestionable, fix things that “ain’t broke,” turn the seemingly impossible into the possible, and, well… to simply “think different.”

Innovators are not satisfied just playing the game. They have an irresistible itch to rethink it, to change it, to improve it. Or to invent an entirely new game. They are, as George Bernard Shaw once explained, unreasonable people. Shaw argued that “the reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” Rather than conform to the existing patterns of the world, innovators can intuitively see what is wrong with those patterns – where others cannot – and they instinctively want to put them right, or to replace them with their own patterns. They quite literally want to change the world.

In a 1994 interview conducted by the Silicon Valley Historical Association, Steve Jobs said the following: “When you grow up, you tend to get told the world is the way it is, and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much… That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that it – everything around you that you call ‘life’… you can change it, you can influence it… you can mould it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just going to live in it, verses embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

Jobs summed it up very well. Innovators don’t just accept that “the world is the way it is.” They are always driven to reshape it into the way they envision it could be. Innovators behave exactly as those “Think Different” ads said they do: “They invent. They imagine… They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy… Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

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