Book, Culture, Deutsch, Happiness, Self help

Praktisch-stoische Philosophie

Ich glaube an Stoische Philosophie – Persistenz und Widerstand. Die Berühmte Autorin Angela Duckworth hat umfangreiche Forschung über Erfolg angegeben und ausdrücklich diskutiert, wie man Erfolg erreichen kann. Sie weist darauf hin, dass der größte Einzelfaktor die Ausdauer ist. Sie gibt viele Beispiele  aus US Militär in ihrem Buch. Immer wieder ist man erfolgreich, der die Ausdauer hat. Heutzutage geben viele junge Menschen schnell auf. Soziale Medien sind nicht hilfreich, da sie tragen zur Unübersichtlichkeit beitragen. Die andere Aspekt von Stoische Philosophie ist Widerstand. Nicht nur junge Menschen aber viele Leute haben ein Problem von Ablenkung. Beispielsweise Smartphone. Wenn man Selbstkontrolle hat, kann man gut konzentrieren. Es ist nicht genug, wie lange man etwas lernt oder arbeitet. Wichtiger ist wie effektiv das Lernen oder die Arbeit ist. Das Konzentrieren ohne Ablenkung hilft zum effektiven Lernen und Arbeiten. Das führt zu einem  erfolgreichen und glücklichen Leben.

Vielen Dank an meine Lehrerin Frau Rashmi für die Hilfe bei der Bearbeitung meines ersten deutschen Beitrags.

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Alcohol, Book, Culture, Values

Intoxication

Sigmund Freud said  “Men are more moral than they think and far more immoral than they can imagine.” The extreme brutality of the rape and murder of  a woman in Hyderabad and a woman in Unnao is beyond imagination and has caught attention of the public more than ever before.
The Hyderabad police detained and killed all four accused, who had devised a cunning plan. The rape and killing of the woman understandably outraged the public. But the police response was a case of mob justice. History tells us, there is no dearth of trigger- happy governments. As one of the women lawyers rightly put it, “Nobody will ever know if the four men killed by the police were innocent men, arrested fast to show action. And whether four of the most brutal rapists roam free, to rape and kill more women.”
A key underlying issue in this and other similar incidents is intoxication. The incident in Hyderabad was alcohol, while the incident in Unnao was of power intoxication.
Malcom Gladwell’s book, “Talking to Strangers”, cites extensive research on alcohol, explains how under high intoxication one is at the mercy of their environment, oblivious to social and moral norms. All inner conflict and corrective mechanisms are lost, and one does what they subconsciously always believed and wanted to do. When blood alcohol crosses 0.15, the hippo campus shuts down entirely. In this “blackout” condition people can appear to function normally, but without retaining any memory.
Gladwell gives us an interesting story: A thirty-nine-year-old salesman awoke in a Las Vegas hotel room on Saturday the 14th. His last recollection was of sitting in a St. Louis bar on Monday the 9th where he had started drinking in the morning and at about 3 PM he went blank. He blacked out for five days. He had left the bar in St. Louis, gone to the airport, bought a plane ticket, flown to Las Vegas, found a hotel, checked in, shaved and functioned perfectly well all the while in blackout mode.
In Hyderabad, were the four accused in a blackout condition? Was a cunning plan out of reach of those who are blacked out? You never know. Only science can tell.
Therefore, to prevent these types of incidents from reoccurring, we need to do the following:
  • Teach kids responsible drinking. In India, neither the family nor the education system teaches kids how to be responsible with alcohol so that as adults they are better able to consider their drinking habits. Like having a driver’s license, it would be a good idea to have a drinking license so that when they become adults, they consume alcohol responsibly;
  • Get rid of easy access to alcohol, especially on highways;
  • Focused police patrolling in high crime areas involving lorry, bus, cab drivers;
  • Conduct mandatory and regular behavioural workshops for truck and cab drivers;
  • Harsher punishment may instil fear in likely offenders but it may also perpetrate them killing of the victim as a witness. I do not see harsher punishment as a viable long term preemptive measure;
  • Parents must facilitate and train children to rely on their instincts and thought processes in order to recognise and react to danger;
  • Police regulated pick-ups for women at pubs or crime prone areas
Rape and murder incidents are on the rise as reckless youth who have increasing access to money, alcohol and power exploit vulnerable women. Perhaps it’s time we tried empirical approaches, popularised in the field of Economics by Nobel laureates such as Abhijit Banerjee, to tackle these incidents.
Culture, Self help

Holistic Thinking

Holistic thinking, in my view, is the most critical skill that is germane to this day and age of smartphones and fake news and to the coming decades. To be holistic is the ability to look at the whole picture of matter at hand and not rely merely on limited analysis or information.
Our natural disposition to oversimplify that which is of its nature complex and to jump to conclusions is detrimental to holistic thinking.
I would argue that this disposition is at work while we consume news, make political choices or think/act out of ego.
Politicians, both to the right and to the left, exploit the efficacy of narrow narratives. Understandably, most of us fall to those narratives or fake news items as they are highly persuasive and require little critical thought.
Ego handles success, for example, in a similar fashion. Ego attributes much of an individual’s success to his/her own facets whilst ignoring or undermining the role of other factors such as luck, family and community. Ego comes in the way of holistic thinking and more often than not contributes to the subject’s downfall. Therefore, ego by itself is not the issue whereas its miring of holistic thinking is.
For me the antidote to narrow outlooks is to read books and lots of those and follow the connoisseurs in their spheres of expertise. Those help build a broad base for the mind to capture and process the information rationally and not take the bait of narrow narratives.
Culture, Environment, Food

Our food and climate change

Domesticated animals constitute nearly 70% of the animal biomass on the planet and contribute to nearly 15% of the global emissions. Those emissions are more than the emissions from all forms of transport together. This is known for quite sometime but the livestock biomass is growing at the expense of forest land and wild animals. This, I think, is largely due to the increasing population driven by a globalized consumerist culture with similar food habits.

Sure, there are fewer humans dying out of hunger in the 21st century than ever in the history of mankind. But the enhanced food security is at a tremendous cost to the environment and other species. We already see that the technological innovations to increase, say, rice or milk production, arguably, have resulted in inadvertent health effects on humans.

Mr. Wali, one of the proponents of Millets based diet in this part of the world argues that one must consume a variety of millets not only to maintain better health but also to reduce stress on the ecosystem as millets can grow in arid conditions.  But the key point is to have diverse sources of food. I liked his idea and have taken onto Millets based diet for sometime now. I think we need to enjoy our freedom more responsibly and adapt our food habits as necessary. We don’t need everyone eating rice or eating beef and lots of it all the time.

In times to come we need to decouple religion/culture and food and perhaps have a market regulator for food people eat, if necessary. With right wing/nationalist uprising everywhere, it’s definitely not a piece of cake 🙂

Culture, Values

Never out of fashion

In order to thrive and succeed in this increasingly globalized world, it is important for anyone and particularly so for the ones in business world to be able to determine which aspects of human interactions are a result of personality and which are the results of cultural perspectives. Erin Meyer’s book “The Culture Map” lays out eight aspects (or scales) using which different cultures can be compared with one another. It also recommends strategies for working with people across cultures.

To be able to effectively work in a multicultural setup, one needs to be aware of not only the relative position of his/her culture in comparison to other cultures but also the relative positions of other cultures among one another on each of the eight comparative scales. For example, on scheduling scale, Germans are more schedule oriented than English, English more than French and eastern cultures that are flexible with time on the other side of the spectrum. Erin reasons out, as much as possible, cultures’ position on a given scale and that makes the book an interesting read. One of the key scales she talks about is “evaluating.” It is interesting to see how various high-context (implicit communication/read between the lines) and low-context (explicit communication/direct) cultures handle negative feedback. For example Russians have a high-context culture but give negative feedback directly and on the contrary Americans have a low-context culture but give indirect (often sugar-coated) negative feedback. Erin also points out that, possibly, more the dependence of a culture on the context of interaction, fewer are the words in the language. For example, French is highly contextual and thus only has approximately 70,000 words, whilst English which is less contextual has 500,000 words.

While Erin provides us tools to understand cultures, Adam Grant in his “Give and Take” takes us a step closer to understanding personalities- Givers, Matchers and Takers — and values one must look for or uphold in order to build or succeed in an organizational context. Understandably, Givers are helpful to others at their own expense and end up at the bottom of the organizational pyramid and Takers in the upper part of the pyramid with Matchers in between. But it’s not all bad news for Givers, as over time, their positive karma bears fruit and helps them succeed and reach the highest levels. We can see that in societal and historical contexts that all great leaders demonstrated giver values.

I strongly believe that those with right set of values and an accepting approach to  differences cultural and otherwise will never be out of fashion and particularly so in the machine age.