Perceptions and other missed opportunities

I'm in Dublin for the day and since the battery on my laptop is dead I'm using my iPad for the first time for some real work. Let's see how this goes.

I've been thinking a lately about the effects of perception on our ability to do things. Depending on your particular brain chemical balance the same situation can seem like an opportunity or a calamity.

It's seems like all those great evolutionary traits that have protected us from harm in the savannah now lead us to mess up an interview or avoid key opportunities. The brain, it seems, is rather stupid. It can't tell the difference between a large cat in the bush and an interviewer in a London office. Our reaction is visceral, cripling, physically painful, and more than anything completely counter-productive.

There are a lot of things we can do to improve our ability to perform and concentrate, one study by Amy Cuddy showed that taking a so-called power-pose can have a significant effect on people's brain chemistry, their confidence, and therefore their ability to perform in formal interviews. How stupid is that? Standing like superman or sitting back on a chair for a few minutes before an interview can actually be the difference between you landing the role or not.

In sports, visualization is a very popular technique to improve athletic performance. Simply put picturing yourself going through the motions, like successfully travesing through a luge track, has a significant effect on your performance. I suspect this technique can be used in every day life to rehearse through conversations, presentations, and interviews.

It seems as though everything in life is about preception; good, bad, it's all arbitrary and self-defined. Why do you want to buy a bigger TV? Because it will make me happy, and happy is good. Why don't you want to embarrass yourself? Because it makes me sad and that's bad.

We define what is good or bad then torment ourselves with those definitions.

I don't know where this line of thinking leads, but it has certainly made me re-evaluate many priorities in my life. As a physicist I know that, on a cosmic scale, we are really small and insignificant. The universe is constantly changing and we are but a small part of that.

The truth is that nothing matters and everything matters because you say it does, so when you have a bad day realise that there is no such thing as a bad day. It's simply a label that you put on your experience. Don't let those labels stop you from living and experiencing the things that are truly important to you.

Have a good one. Until next time.

-- Jacob Blanco