Archive for the ‘personal development’ Category

Thinking In and Out of Boxes

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Boxes are useful things. Part of my job involves shipping books. The predictable sizes of the boxes I ship books in allows me to easily and quickly fulfill orders for customers. Shipping in boxes, the books arrive intact.

Most people live in boxes. It is easy to measure lumber and sheet rock and metal and wood for flooring, etc. in height, length, and width. This makes boxy houses easier to construct than rounded, wavy, or triangular domiciles.

Buckminster Fuller was an outside-the-box thinker. He invented many things including the geodesic dome, a kind of archetypal anti-box. Many people thought that in the future we’d all live in dome-shaped houses, but alas domes aren’t all that nice to live in. They frequently leak. Sounds easily travel from one side to the other of a dome, making for little privacy. And domes are difficult to furnish in a box-shaped world—nothing quite seems to fit. Indeed, few of Fuller’s inventions fit our boxy world either. Nobody drives a Dymaxion car.

Boxes can be limiting however. What we can easily measure, predict, and control can also control the possibilities we conceive of. You can’t describe the movement of planets with just height, length, and width, even if you add in time. The cosmos is curvy. So boxy thinking never quite describes reality accurately.

Some boxes are very spacious, complex, and beautiful—so much so that we don’t recognize their sharp angles and boxy nature at first. To think outside of a box we have to open at least one side to let fresh air in. This makes things more wide open, unbounded, yet conditional, context-sensitive.

It’s not necessarily always better to be unboxed and uncontained, but life in a box lacks the freshness of a summer’s breeze.

Recommended Reading
The Power of Mindful Learning by Ellen J. Langer
The Ecological Thought by Timothy Morton

Free Coaching Offer for 9/11 PTSD Flashbacks

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

9-11 terrorist attacks NYC PTSD relief

I’m looking to work with 5 people who were in New York on 9/11/2011 and experience traumatic flashbacks related to the events on or after that day.

Each person will be given one free (normally $100) video Skype or phone coaching session. During your session, I will guide you through a technique that has been effective in resolving Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) flashbacks for many people. Sessions will be up to 75 minutes long, but may end early if we’re done earlier.

Sessions will be recorded, and some or all recordings will be posted online along with a description of the technique and the steps as an educational resource. Participants will not need to mention the content of their past experiences as this is a process-based intervention.

The technique is called the Visual-Kinesthetic Dissociation Protocol and has been effective in the resolution of phobias and traumatic flashbacks for many individuals, including in New York City immediately after 9/11 and for war veterans.

I have facilitated this technique (and many others) successfully many times with clients and have received training through NLP Comprehensive and Andreas NLP Trainings, probably the best sources for learning these techniques.

While the risks involved are low as this is a very gentle process, there are no guarantees and this does not replace other psychological or medical treatment. Please consult with your existing therapist or doctor before taking part in this to make sure it is compatible with any other things you have been doing. Available only until 9/30/2011 for the first 5 people.

Click here to schedule your
free 75-minute coaching session!

Or you can email or call me to schedule:

Duff McDuffee
andrewmcduffee [at] gmail [dot] com
303-800-4385 (note: I don’t receive text messages)
Skype: duffmcduffee

Please share this post with anyone whom you think might benefit. Thanks!

(Note: we are having trouble with thousands of spam comments so all comments are moderated right now. If your comment doesn’t show up right away, send me an email and  I’ll see if I can find it in the moderation cue to approve it. Thanks!)

Transforming the Psychopath and Narcissist Within

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Babies are neither born innocent creatures nor sinful ones, but both, or perhaps neither. Any honest parent will agree upon observing their child go from hugging and kissing a sibling to slapping them unprovoked in seconds. Certainly by the age of two children are both sweet little angels and skillful manipulators, hence the “terrible twos.” It’s surprising to me that such romantic notions still exist about children’s innocence since this view can be so easily removed by babysitting a couple toddlers for a few hours.

Kids’ board games often emphasize the enjoyment found in other people’s misery. Take the game Sorry! in which one pretends to be sorry when landing on an opponent’s piece, thus sending it back to the start and gaining a competitive advantage. Sorry! encapsulates a universal human experience—delight in causing another misery coupled with pretending to not feel such delight. This experience is so common that the apology in the game of Sorry! is obvious in its insincerity to the point of sarcasm. It’s a “sorry! (ha ha)” that recognizes one’s gain at another’s loss. (more…)

Complex Conscientiousness

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Conscientiousness is one of the big five personality traits. It means something like being self-disciplined, painstaking and careful, thorough, organized, hard working, goal-oriented, reliable, deliberate. It also means acting according to one’s conscience. In simpler times this was a key element of what people meant by one’s character, but in excess looks like perfectionism, stuck-upness, rigidity, and an inability to “let loose.”

Conscientiousness is single biggest factor promoting longevity according to the Longevity Project. This is probably because conscientious people are more likely to follow certain rules like “don’t smoke cigarettes,” “exercise for 30 minutes 3-5 times a week,” and “eat your vegetables.” These rules are simple, easy to remember, and don’t conflict with each other. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but lately in just about every field imaginable, there is so much information available that it is difficult to keep up with all the rules, let alone sort out the numerous conflicts! (more…)

Minimalism vs. Frugalism

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Minimalism is primarily an aesthetic, hence why minimalists generally like Macs and iPhones due to their simple and elegant beauty. Minimalists’ decisions about how simple to be often seem arbitrary because they are based on aesthetic concerns, not practical ones — but minimalists often confuse the two. For instance, many people rave about how usable the iPhone is, but in fact it is a mixed bag — what it is, is beautiful. But Apple makes many design decisions to choose beauty over usability, which is why iTunes is so confusing and hard to use for example. Living with less than 100 things is another example — what constitutes a “thing” is arbitrary, “100″ is arbitrary (but a nice round number), digital “things” not counting as things is arbitrary, etc. It’s more about a feeling that is generated from the aesthetic in a specific person who likes that aesthetic than about saving money, conserving resources, not being owned by one’s stuff, focusing on what’s most important, etc. which are also concerns but are subject to the overall aesthetic. So when Leo Baubata says “stop buying the unnecessary,” what he really means is “don’t buy ugly things or too many things such that your minimalist aesthetic is ruined.” For what is truly unnecessary to the minimalist is that which ruins the simple aesthetic.

Frugalism on the other hand is about getting more out of life by maximizing value for one’s dollars over time, since life is time and time is money. (more…)

How to Deal Effectively with Peer Pressure

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Try to do anything new and you’ll probably run into some sort of resistance in the form of peer pressure. For example, let’s say after a particularly nasty hangover you decide to quit drinking alcohol. All your friends and family will immediately praise your maturity and willpower, and forever only offer you non-alcoholic beverages, right? Well, maybe not…

Them: Hey, you want a drink?

You: Yea, I’ll take a glass of water, thanks.

Them: Don’t you want a beer or something?

You: No thanks, I’m trying to quit.

Them: Come on, it’s just one drink…

Now here’s where most personal development writers will say “you should stay away from such negative people—they are only trying to bring you down.” I think it’s exactly the opposite. (more…)

How Much Would You Pay for a New Habit?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

If you’re a regular reader of Beyond Growth, you already know that buying things isn’t self-help. If you aren’t doing the free or cheap version of something (e.g. pushups), than buying something expensive (e.g. a weight set) isn’t likely to magically bring about positive changes. The hard work remains either way.

Which brings me to a new $497, 28-day course “worth thousands of dollars” in changing habits called The Habit Course, from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and friends. (Hat tip to @7breaths_.) Personally, I think the most important habit to create in your life is the habit of avoiding overpriced personal development products, of which there will always be more. The chances are for most people who purchase this or any other program, compliance will be very low, the forums are likely to be dead, and the added “bonuses” will likely lead to overload and analysis paralysis.

In addition, anything other than just working on your habit is not working on your habit, and fundamental changes simply take time. While it can be helpful to learn a few things about successfully forming habits, it is all too common to become an armchair expert in the theory of success without doing the actual work. Just as it would be ridiculous to eat a menu, confusing it for the meal, we consumers of personal development often eat up the inspiration instead of being nourished by the actions required to make real change—most of which are completely free. (more…)

Meaninglessness, Nihilism, and The Landmark Forum

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Frequent Beyond Growth commenter Jack of the 32,000 Days blog recently wrote a blog entry entitled “Landmark forum – cult, scam, or path to enlightenment” based on his experiences of the popular personal growth workshop. His review was mostly favorable but also accurate, telling of the aggressive techniques used and the reasoning behind the workshop, but also noting some important points counter to critics of The Forum like that nobody was forced to stay in the room (unlike the original est training). I am still highly critical of The Forum and Landmark Education in general and do not recommend this workshop, but it was interesting to hear about Jack’s experience nonetheless.

I posted a long comment in response that I thought Beyond Growth readers might enjoy. My comment includes some ideas I’ve been working on around the philosophy of personal growth which is also critical of some of the presuppositions of The Forum. For context, you may want to read Jack’s post first. (more…)