Debate Tips from The Intelligent Conversationalist

This English language Cheat Sheet gives you some strategies to come out champion of any conversation. We first focus on an A to Z of impressive words to throw into your chat now and again. then follow these up with a few one-liner get-outs and steer-aways to ensure you can dig yourself out of any holes you may find yourself in.

Disarming Words: Meaning I’ll leave it to you find out:

Avarice, Borborygmus, Connive, Disestablishmentarionism, Erudite, Fractious, Gluttony, Hauteur, Inverterate, Jabberwack, Kismet, Lackadaisical, Malapropism, Nadir, Obtuse, Panacea, Qoph, Repudiate, Sycophant, Truculent, Umbrage, Vex, Wanton, Yack, Zenith

The next sets of phrases are there to get you out of a tight spot, for sometimes we all find ourselves a little out of our depth. Every single television personality has a tell, a filler word or phrase they employ while they try to figure out what to say on air without looking like a muppet. One of the most successful cable news hosts I’ve ever worked with uses exactly. My get-out-of-jail card is to say “on some levels, yes.” It buys enough time for me to figure out, under the X-ray that is the TV camera, how I’m going to steer the conversation to an area I want to talk about. And this is worth repeating: Never use the words like or you know. You are not an ignorant fool; you are an intelligent member of society. To buy time while you figure out how to respond: • Repeat the question. Use pauses and remark “good question” or “interesting point.” Direct the question to someone else.

Be vague if you’re unsure:

  • “Recently”—could mean at any point in the past few years.
  • “In my opinion.”

Counterpunches:

  • “You’re being defensive.”
  • “Surely it’s no coincidence that the word listen is an anagram
    of the word silent.”
  • “I don’t have an attitude problem. You have a perception
    problem.”
  • “Frankness is usually a euphemism for rudeness.”

To win a debate with a conservative:

  • “A conservative is a politician who wants to keep what the
    liberals fought for a generation ago.”

To win a debate with a liberal:

  • “Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone
    with no heart. show me’ an old Liberal and I’ll show you
    someone with no brains.” —Winston Churchill
  • “The principal feature of American liberalism is sanctimoniousness
    ” —P. J. O’Rourke

When you’ve won a debate:

  • “Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.”
  • Shortest complete sentence in the English language is
    ‘Go.’ Shall we go to the bar?”

When you’re sinking:

  • “Don’t take life too seriously, you won’t get out alive.”
  • “Being right is highly overrated. Even a stopped clock is right
    twice a day.”

To end the debate and come out with some of your reputation intact:

  • “Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.”
  • “After all is said and done, more is said than done.”

On the very rare occasions you initially appear to have lost:

  • “You can’t learn anything while you’re talking.
  • “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should
    be. Be one.” —Marcus Aurelius

WISE WORDS

I love argument, I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree
with me, that’s not their job.
—Margaret Thatcher

SOCIAL SURVIVAL STRATEGY

Argument:
“After all is said and done, more is said than done.”
The above phrase will shut everyone up, but avail yourself of it
sparingly. You don’t want a reputation as a killjoy, you want to be
known for your sparkling chitchat.

Crisp Fact:
The word xenon may save you at Scrabble one day.
Always important to commit a few good Scrabble words to memory; not using your phone to cheat will always be admired, if not
appreciated.

Pivot:

“I think we should all just follow Marcus Aurelius: ‘Waste no
more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.’ ”
Take the high road—this is cocktail conversation, not a GOP primary.

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Zhuangzi, Basic Writings

Daoism’s essence is to understand the way and abiding in unity and the mode is elucidated in a number of Chinese classics and one such is Zhuangzi. Author Zhuang Zhou uses humor, anecdote, parable, non sequitur and nonsense to explain the points of the way by jolting the reader from ordinary logic. It is good read and the translation by Burton Watson is excellent to bring the richness of this age old text. Some excerpts that I feel I want to file for future reference:

Intro
The central theme of the Zhuangzi may be summed up in a single word: freedom. Essentially, all the philosophers of ancient China addressed themselves to the same problem: how is man to live in a world dominated by chaos, suffering, and absurdity? Nearly all of them answered with some concrete plan of action designed to reform the individual, to reform society, and eventually to free the world from its ills. The proposals put forward by the Confucians, the Mohists, and the Legalists, to name some of the principal schools of philosophy, are all different, but all are based upon the same kind of common-sense approach to the problem, and all seek for concrete social, political, and ethical re- forms to solve it. Zhuangzi’s answer, however, the answer of one branch of the Daoist school, is radically different from these, and is grounded upon a wholly different type of thinking. It is the answer of a mystic, and in attempting to describe it here in clear and concrete language, I shall undoubtedly be doing violence to its essentially mystic and indescribable nature. Zhuangzi’s answer to the question is: free yourself from the world.  What does he mean by this? he tells the story of a man named Nanrong Zhu who went to visit the Daoist sage Laozi in hopes of finding some solution to his worries. When he appeared, Laozi promptly inquired, “Why did you come with all this crowd of people?” The man whirled around in astonishment to see if there was someone standing behind him. Needless to say, there was not; the “crowd of people” that he came with was the baggage of old ideas, the conventional concepts of right and wrong, good and bad, life and death, that he lugged about with him wherever he went. It is this baggage of conventional values that man must first of all discard before he can be free. Zhuangzi saw the same human sufferings that Confucius, Mozi, and Mencius saw. He saw the man-made ills of war, poverty, and injustice. He saw the natural ills of disease and death. But he believed that they were ills only because man recognized them as such. If man would once forsake his habit of labeling things good or bad, desirable or undesirable, then the man-made ills, which are the product of man’s purposeful and value-ridden actions, would disappear and the natural ills that remain would no longer be seen as ills, but as an inevitable part of the course of life. Thus, in Zhuangzi’s eyes, man is the author of his own suffering and bondage, and all his fears spring from the web of values created by himself alone. Zhuangzi sums up this whole diseased, fear-struck condition of mankind in the macabre metaphor of the leper woman who, “when she gives birth to a child in the deep of the night, rushes to fetch a torch and examine it, trembling with terror lest it look like herself’.

Secret of Caring for Life
Your life has a limit but knowledge has none. If you use what is limited to pursue what has no limit, you will be in danger. If you understand this and still strive for knowledge, you will be in danger for certain! If you do good, stay away from fame. If you do evil, stay away from punishments. Follow the middle; go by what is constant, and you can stay in one piece, keep yourself alive, look after your parents, and live out your years.
Do you know what it is that destroys virtue, and where wisdom comes from? Virtue is destroyed by fame, and wisdom comes out of wrangling. Fame is something to beat people down with, and wisdom is a device for wrangling. Both are evil weapons—not the sort of thing to bring you success. Though your virtue may be great and your good faith unassailable, if you do not understand men’s spirits, though your fame may be wide and you do not strive with others, if you do not understand men’s minds, but instead appear before a tyrant and force him to listen to sermons on benevolence and righteousness, measures and standards—this is simply using other men’s bad points to parade your own excellence. You will be called a plaguer of others. He who plagues others will be plagued in turn. You will probably be plagued by this man. “And suppose he is the kind who actually delights in worthy men and hates the unworthy—then why does he need you to try to make him any different? You had best keep your advice to yourself! Kings and dukes always lord it over others and fight to win the argument. You will find your eyes growing dazed, your color changing, your mouth working to invent excuses, your attitude becoming more and more humble, until in your mind you end by supporting him. This is to pile fire on fire, to add water to water, and is called ‘increasing the excessive.

In the world of Men
I want to tell you something else I’ve learned. In all human relations, if two parties are living close to each other, they may form a bond through personal trust. But if they are far apart, they must use words to communicate their loyalty, and words must be transmitted by someone. To transmit words that are either pleasing to both parties or infuriating to both parties is one of the most difficult things in the world. 1%ere both parties are pleased, there must be some exaggeration of the good points; and where both parties are angered, there must be some exaggeration of the bad points. Anything that smacks of exaggeration is irresponsible. Where there is irresponsibility, no one will trust what is said, and when that happens, the man who is transmitting the words will be in danger. Therefore the aphorism says, ‘Transmit the established facts; do not transmit words of exaggeration.’ If you do that, you will probably come out all right. “When men get together to pit their strength in games of skill, they start off in a light and friendly mood, but usually end up in a dark and angry one, and if they go on too long they start resorting to various underhanded tricks.When men meet at some ceremony to drink, they start off in an orderly manner, but usually end up in disorder, and if they go on too long they start indulging in various irregular amusements. It is the same with all things. What starts out being sincere usually ends up being deceitful. What was simple in the beginning acquires monstrous proportions in the end. “Words are like wind and waves; actions are a matter of gain and loss. Wind and waves are easily moved; questions of gain and loss easily lead to danger. Hence anger arises from no other cause than clever words and one-sided speeches. When animals face death, they do not care what cries they make; their breath comes in gasps and a wild fierceness is born in their hearts. [Men, too,] if you press them too hard, are bound to answer you with ill-natured hearts, though they do not know why they do so. If they themselves do not understand why they behave like this, then who knows where it will end?  -Therefore the aphorism says, ‘Do not deviate from your orders: do not press for completion.’ To go beyond the limit is excess; to deviate from orders or press for completion is a dangerous thing. A good completion takes a long time; a bad completion cannot be changed later. Can you afford to be careless? -Just co along things and let your mind move freely. Re- sign yourself to what cannot be avoided and nourish what is within you—this is best. IN hat more do you have to do to fulfill our mission? Nothing is as good as orders (obeying fate—that’s how difficult it is!

The Sign of Virtue Complete
Confucius said, “Life, death, preservation, loss, failure, success, poverty, riches, worthiness, unworthiness, slander, fame, hunger, thirst, cold, heat—these are the alternations of the world, the workings of fate. Day and night they change place be- fore us and wisdom cannot spy out their source. Therefore, they should not be enough to destroy your harmony; they should not be allowed to enter the storehouse of spirit. If you can harmonize and delight in them, master them and never be at a loss for joy, if you can do this day and night without break and make it be spring with everything, mingling with all and creating the moment within your own mind—this is what I call being whole in power.” “What do you mean when you say his virtue takes no form?” “Among level things, water at rest is the most perfect, and therefore it can serve as a standard. It guards what is inside and shows no movement outside. Virtue is the establishment of perfect harmony. Though virtue takes no form, things cannot break away from it.”

Autumn Floods
Once, when Zhuangzi was fishing in the Pu River, the king of Chu sent two officials to go and announce to him: “I would like to trouble you with the administration of my realm.” Zhuangzi held on to the fishing pole and, without turning his head, said, “I have heard that there is a sacred tortoise in Chu that has been dead for three thousand years. The king keeps it wrapped in cloth and boxed, and stores it in the ancestral tem- ple. Now would this tortoise rather be dead and have its bones left behind and honored? Or would it rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud?” “It would rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud,” said the two officials. Zhuangzi said, “Go away! I’ll drag my tail in the mud!”

Supreme Happiness
What ordinary people do and what they find happiness in—I don’t know whether such happiness is in the end really happiness or not. I look at what ordinary people find happiness in, what they all make a mad dash for, racing around as though they couldn’t stop—they all say they’re happy with it. I’m not happy with it and I’m not unhappy with it. In the end is there really happiness or isn’t there? I take inaction to be true happiness, but ordinary people think it is a bitter thing. I say: the highest happiness has no happiness’ the highest praise has no praise. The world can’t decide what is right and what is wrong. And yet inaction can decide this. The highest happiness, keeping alive—only inaction gets you close to this! Let me try putting it this way. The inaction of Heaven is its purity, the inaction of earth is its peace. So the two inactions combine and all things are transformed and brought to birth.
Wonderfully, mysteriously, there is no place they come out of. Mysteriously, wonderfully, they have no sign. Each thing minds its business and all grow up out of inaction. So I say, Heaven and earth do nothing and there is nothing that is not done. Among men, who can get hold of this inaction? Zhuangzi’s wife died, when Huizi went to convey his condolences, he found Zhuangzi sitting with his legs sprawled out, pounding on a tub and singing, “You lived with her, she brought up your children and grew old,” said Huizi “It should be enough simply not to weep at her death. But pounding on a tub and singing—this is going coo far, isn’t it?” Zhuangzi  said, “You’re wrong, When she first died, do you think I didn’t grieve like anyone else? But I looked back to her beginning and the time before she was born. Not only the time before she was born, but the time before she had a body. Not only the time before she had a body, but the time before she had a spirit. In the midst of wonder and mystery a change took place she had a spirit, Another change and she had a body, Another change and she was born. Now there’s been and she’s (lead, Il’s just like the progression of four seasons, spring, summer, fall winter. Now she’s going to lie peacefully in a vast room. If I were to follow after her bawling and sobbing, it would show that I don’t understand anything about fate So I stopped.”

Mastering Life
He who has mastered the true nature of life does not labor over what life cannot do. He who has mastered the true nature of fate does not labor over what knowledge cannot change. He who wants to nourish his body must first of all turn to things. And yet it is possible to have more than enough things and for the body still to go unnourished. He who has life must first of all see to it that it does not leave the body. And yet it is possible for life never to leave the body and still fail to be preserved. The coming of life cannot be fended off, its departure cannot be stopped. How pitiful the men of the world, who think that simply nourishing the body is enough to preserve life! Then why is what the world does worth doing? It may not be worth doing, and yet it cannot be left undone—this is unavoidable. He who wants to avoid doing anything for his body had best abandon the world. By abandoning the world, he can be without entanglements. Being without entanglements, he can be upright and calm. Being upright and calm, he can be born again with others. Being born again, he can come close [to the Way]. But why is abandoning the affairs of the world worthwhile, and why is forgetting life worthwhile? If you abandon the affairs of the world, your body will be without toil. If you forget life, your vitality will be unimpaired. With your body complete and your vitality made whole again, you may become one with Heaven. Heaven and earth are the father and mother of the ten thousand things. They join to become a body; they part to be- come a beginning. When the body and vitality are without flaw, this is called being able to shift. Vitality added to vitality, you re- turn to become the Helper of Heaven.
Woodworker Qing carved a piece of wood and made a bell stand, and when it was finished, everyone who saw it marveled, for it seemed to be the work of gods or spirits. When the marquis of Lu saw it, he asked, “N%at art is it you have?” Qing replied, “I am only a craftsman—how would I have any art? There is one thing, however. When I am going to make a bell stand, I never let it wear out my energy. I always fast in order to still my mind. When I have fasted for three days, I no longer have any thought of congratulations or rewards, of titles or stipends. When I have fasted for five days, I no longer have any thought of praise or blame, of skill or clumsiness. And when I have fasted for seven days, I am so still that I forget I have four limbs and a form and body. By that time, the ruler and his court no longer exist for me. My skill is concentrated and all outside distractions fade away. After that, I go into the mountain forest and examine the Heavenly nature of the trees. If I find one of superlative form, and I can see a bell stand there, I put my hand to the job of carving; if not, I let it go. This way I am simply matching up ‘Heaven’ with ‘Heaven.’  That’s probably the reason that people wonder if the results were not made by spirits.”

Commitments for Mind Training–Meditation & Shine

These commitments not only apply to mind training but in general to life itself:

  1. Always abide by these 3 principles: keep you commitments and vows for mind training, don’t overindulge in anything including self-image, be patient with everything and it shouldn’t be selective
  2. Remain natural, transform in your attitude: essentially transform your selfishness to be caring attitude
  3. Do not talk about the defects of others: do not tease, make fun or bring attention of others physical and mental handicaps
  4. Whatever the faults of others may be, do not contemplate them
  5. Abandon poisonous food
  6. Helping others is not based on returning favors: doing good for others must not depend on how well or badly that person has treated you in the past
  7. Do not expose the faults of others to irritate them
  8. Do not wait in ambush: do not wait for opportunity to strike back at those against whom you hold a grudge, never seek revenge.
  9. Never strike at heart, never be sadistic or cruel to others
  10. Do not put an ox’s load on a cow
  11. Do not aim to be the best: do not try to get better deal for yourself at the expense of others
  12. Do not misuse remedy – merit gained from mind training is for good purpose and not for personal gain
  13. Do not use gods for evil: do not use religious pretexts for anything evil
  14. Be like a humble servant before all
  15. Do not delight in the suffering of others

Follow a single pointed dedication to this mind training goal and merit comes on its own – perhaps the duration is not known but surely it arrives to being peace and clarity and goodness for all.

Shine Practices : Remedy for Pride

Part 3

Remedy for Pride: Where am I?

The next concentration is the ideal remedy for pride and self-clinging. This meditation allows us to understand that there is no self to cling to and be proud of. Begin by considering the nature of clinging or attachment. Is clinging independent? No, it cannot be independent, because it requires that there is something to be attached to. For example, "that is my phone" or "those are my shoes." Now think about the way you cling to yourself as special, unique, the center of your own world. What are you clinging to? What is it about you that you are attached to? To your form? Consider the different things that make up your form. Think about just your skin, from the tips of your toes to the top of your head, from back to front, just the skin. Ask yourself: "is that me?" Then think about your flesh, the muscle, fat, organs, etc. everywhere. Take the time to look in biology books to get an impression of flesh, then really use your mind to picture your own flesh. Where is "me"? Is that me? Am I in any part of my flesh? In my heart? In my head? Now think about your veins. Mentally strip away the flesh and muscles and organs in your body and think about your whole circulatory system. Where am I in that network of veins, arteries, capillaries? There is certainly still a feeling of self as you do this, as you look for yourself, but try to locate it somewhere. You will find that there is no "me" anywhere. Now think about all the liquid in your body: blood, lymph, water, urine, etc. Is there anything there in all those liters of various liquids that is you? Now think about your bones. Concentrate on every part of yourself, thinking about the bones in every part of your body. Slowly consider each and every part of your bone structure. Look for something to cling to as a self there: is that me? Now examine the space in your body: there is space in your intestines, space in the marrow of your bones, space in your veins, in your lungs, ears, etc. Can you find a self anywhere there? Then think about all the elements in your body, the air, the heat, the cool. Is that me? Now think about the sense consciousnesses, the distinct capacity for awareness of each sense organ, and try to find a self there. Is my self in my consciousness of sound? If you cling to a self in your consciousness of sound, how does the consciousness of seeing occur? Where am I in seeing? What about tasting, touching, smelling, or even thinking? How can the self be there separately in each of these senses? If each sense consciousness has one self, you have at least five or six selves—you are not one, you are many. That would mean that for each sense consciousness there is a separate self. How can you be many selves? If you think that you have one self altogether for all of these. then it should follow that you can hear with your eyes, see with your skin, etc. If you cannot find a self in any of those parts, then collectively where could it possibly be? That is how you meditate. Then in post-meditation, consider how your idea of "self’ is just an illusion. You have examined each and every part of your body and did not find a self there. It’s just an illusion. Therefore, since there is nothing to think of as your self, there is nothing to cling to. This will reduce the clinging you have to yourself. It will reduce pride and ego.  I recommend working on this concentration for about one week.

Shine Practices : Remedy for Anger

Part 2

Remedy for Anger: Concentration on compassion and loving-kindness

The most effective way to remedy anger is to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion. In order to cultivate compassion. you must concentrate on the suffering that permeates the minds of all sentient beings. There are three types of suffering that exist in the minds of all sentient beings: suffering, sadness, and disappointment. Suffering mind is the mind that is constantly suffering from one thing or another. This can be caused by physical pain, for example. A sad mind is principally caused by thinking in a particular way: what you needed did not happen, what you did not need happened, etc. Anything that contributes to sadness and depression is part of the sad mind. Unlike suffering and sadness that come from the inside, disappointment comes from the outside. Whoever and whatever hurts you or harms you, disappoints you. That is disappointment. First think about these three kinds of suffering that afflict the mind. Now think about how others suffer from these three types of suffering. First concentrate on the tiniest creatures—ants, earthworms, etc. Think about how each and every individual ant has a mind, and how every mind. no matter how small, is afflicted by these three kinds of suffering. Try to really feel how they feel their suffering. Now gradually consider bigger and bigger sentient beings: dogs, cows, etc. concentrating on how each living creature has a mind, that mind is afflicted by three kinds of suffering, and try to feel their pain. This continues up until you consider the minds of humans. Feeling how others feel this constant pain, just like you, you can really experience their pain. Feeling their pain as strongly as your own, you now cultivate the wish that all sentient beings should be free from these three types of suffering. Now consider the nature of this suffering, what is it? Where does it come from? Think about where suffering occurs: in the mind. Suffering permeates every moment of mind, every moment of mind carries sadness, disappointment, and subtle suffering. This is the real truth of the first noble truth: there is suffering. The mind never has a moment of peace. Now consider how if there is no suffering in an individual’s mind, there is in fact no suffering at all. So what is mind? Investigate it closely and you will see that every moment of mind is impermanent, not solid or lasting. Moment to moment it changes, without a single, solid essence underlying it. Through this sincere investigation, you will discover that mind is in fact empty. that underlying it there is no such thing as a self. So in fact it is the mistaken belief in a self, the mistaken belief in the permanence of the mind, that underlies the experience of each of these three kinds of suffering. Now with the understanding that all beings—including yourself—suffer equally, and with the understanding that there is no self to suffer, that mind is empty, raise up the intense desire that all beings be freed from their suffering. Wishing that they be free from suffering is compassion. After you have generated the sincere wish that all beings be free from suffering, cultivate an equally intense wish for all sentient beings to experience happiness. Do this by calling to mind the fact that each living being has the same desire for happiness as you do, and then concentrate on generating the profound wish that every single sentient being experience true joy. That is loving-kindness. This concentration is limitlessly meritorious. It produces limitless merit. This meditation is something you can practice for weeks, until you can comfortably and smoothly concentrate the moment you sit down for meditation: all beings suffer exactly as I do: suffering is in the mind; each moment of mind does not exist; the mindstream is therefore empty and there is nothing to cling to; may all beings realize this and be free from suffering. All beings wish for happiness exactly as I do; may all beings experience true joy.

Meditation and Shine Practices

Part 1

The Path to Awakening by Shamar Rinpoche is wonderful aid to novices to start on the great mindfulness journey to freedom. Some important snippets are captured here for aspiring meditators who want o earnestly start this skill:

Sitting Posture:

  1. You must it up straight when you meditate. Your legs can be fully crossed in the full lotus position, or alternatively they can be half crossed with the right leg out and left leg in. Generally, a person with longer legs sits on a higher cushion, but how high your seat is really depends on your physical proportions. It is important that your spine be completely straight. Your stomach is slightly drawn inward and back, while your abdomen is very slightly resting forward for balance. This keeps the central part of the body very straight ad it is the ideal posture for meditation
  2. To enhance a straight central torso, your shoulders should also be balanced and straight.
  3. As for your hands, yo can place them together in the posture of meditation. This means the palms of the hands face up, right hand on top of the left in your lap. Raise your shoulders slightly up and backward, such that the lengths of the arms are gently pressed against the sides of your body. This position further reinforces an upright and straight spine. Alternatively, you can rest your hands palms down on your knees, talking care to keep the shoulders straight.
  4. Your neck should be slightly curved so that your chin is slightly tucked in towards your chest.
  5. Your eyes are half open, looking ahead and cast slightly downward – In my experience, you can fully close your eyes!
  6. Your mouth should nether be open nor pressed firmly closed. Your lips should be relaxed in a very natural position
  7. Breathing is mainly through the nose and not the mouth

These are essential pints of a correct physical posture for meditation. Now you need to know how to focus your mind – rather un-focus the mind on anything. As you practice, you may notice once your mind calms down, your breath automatically calms down. So the option is before your and depending on your makeup, yo can either calm your mind or calm your breath to calm your mind – which is rather circuitous but both achieves same purpose – i.e. to calm mind and have no thoughts and if any thoughts pop up – mindfully watch it but not pursue it anymore of wandering with the thoughts.

Some remedies through Shine Practices:

Remedy of Desire: Concentrate on repulsiveness of the body

The most effective way to remedy the power of desire is to concentrate on the impermanence of the body. First visualize your body as clearly as you can. Try to really understand and know that it is a collection of parts that all depend on each other—the skeleton is a collection of bones joined by ligaments, it contains and protects many organs, it is covered by a network of muscles, there is flesh, fat, the circulatory system, the nervous system, etc. and wrapped around it like a bag is your skin. Now picture a spot of decay the size of the tip of your thumb on your forehead, between your eyes. That spot right there is rotting. What color is it? What colors will it become? Think of the progression of putrid colors a rotting corpse goes through. Now those colors are progressing on your own forehead. Then the decay starts to spread all over your body. Your whole body is rotting, putrefying, and actually starts falling apart. Your rotten flesh falls in pieces to the floor all around you. Your organs also rot, decay, and fall to pieces on the floor. Now only your skeleton is left whole, together with one tiny piece of fresh flesh on the top of each foot, close to your big toes. Those two tiny spots, each the size of the tip of your thumb, are all that remain untouched by decay. Now even your skeleton starts to disintegrate, falling in scattered pieces on the floor. That heap of bones that made up your skeleton now starts to expand and grow. It grows vastly, until it is almost inconceivably big. Wherever you live, whatever continent, picture your skeleton expanding to the very shores of the oceans on every side. East to West, North to South. Your bones are huge, a giant skull, giant spine, etc. Then slowly, ever so slowly, it begins to re-condense and reconstitute, slowly returning to its former size, slowly reforming itself back into your seated position. Then when your skeleton is completely back to its familiar state. those tiny pieces of fresh flesh close to your toes begin to spread. From these, everything regrows: your organs, muscles, tiny pieces of fresh flesh close to your toes begin to spread. From these, everything regrows: your organs, muscles, flesh and blood. In the end your face grows back. It all returns except for one small mark between your eyes, ready to decay again. Take a small break at this point, then begin the meditation again. After you have done this many times you will reach a point where your reaction towards your own body and the bodies of others is one of nausea and revulsion. When you have reached that point it is time to stop. When you have finished your meditation session, do not continue to picture that spot of decay there. As explained above, you must not cling to this as real in post-meditation.

User Interface and the art of seduction

I was very much thinking of participating in start-up challenge that involved an open ended question to organize financial data deluge into organisable chunks by a local start-up accelerator for a large wealth management bank. But the question being open ended and no further info forth coming, I thought I’ll leave the fray, lest there’s another identified start-up whose work this bank wants to capitalize…I’m not sure. But this participation interest lead me to read a few resources on UI design, they’re great and gives you a good head start if you need to design a seductive, meaningful and delightful interface and deliver it on time:

  1. Lean UX – Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience – Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden
  2. Seductive Interaction Design – Stephen P Anderson
  3. Refining Design for Business – Using Analytics, Marketing, and Technology to Inform Customer Centric Design – Michael Krypel
  4. Interface Design for Learning – Design Strategies for Learning Experiences  – Dorian Peters

Each book delves into unique areas and are practical resources to conceive, design and deliver a great UI. Certainly all would agree that “A man is only half of him and rest is his attire” and so does a UI to a software service.

An Introspection Causative of Anger

Anger is perhaps an acronym for Atrocious Negative Gesticulatory Emotions Recurring. In anger, man’s entropy peaks out bursting waves of negative energy in all planes – physical, psychic and auric, piercing the surroundings near or far. This energy wreaks havoc and takes its toll, first and foremost the source and then the receiver. The irony is, receiver perceives and picks this negative avalanche first to summon all he could to deflect, dispose, smoothen and endure it. Since he has acted on it quickly and used all possible ways to manage it, he is devoid of long term repercussions. On the contrary, the originator even though being the source whose nerves overworked to unleash this force gets weakened with wear and tear not immediately, but it keeps accruing until yields at a point where its weight finally tears the foundation. Hence most of the anger-handicapped have nerve related debilitations or associated complications in due course of life.

There can be no man on earth ever not being angry. But the level of anger makes the difference of how you’ll be perceived by society. Anger has solicited extensive treatment from religious to self-help experts since day immemorial. But handling it is an education in progress for every man. In our lifetime, everyone has opportunity to practice it to lessen it and in rare cases totally eliminate it.

Anger happens due to one or all of below:

  • disregard expectations
  • crossover permissibility
  • breach agreements
  • perform unacceptably
  • unmindful or external/unknown causations

In domestic argument, you should restrain until heat subsides, if not your point dissipates in heat – delay is art and science that has to be practiced at all times. Another important mistake in arguments is whatever said can never be retracted, and due to this kingdoms, fiefdoms, families and corporations have perished simply as one carries grudge of hurtful words uttered. Words have the ultimate power than deeds, as our internal words drives us outwardly so does outwardly words we hear (to internalize it) will drive our reactionary response. As we draw our response to words and tones, so does our counterparts, hence beware of its positive and detrimental effects.

In professional situation, it has an hierarchical angle, use with care when applied, to be taken with caution from higher authority and resisted deftly from lower up and in any case not losing composure or calm. This indicates your stealth strength and exposure quotient and hence the inherent weakens of your foundation. The practice to tackle anger and not being angry yourself becomes clear when your conviction and drive are in synch with the purpose of your individuality and institution you serve.

But before anger being used as a response, we should endeavor to exhaust all possible avenues to rectify the situation before which anger should be used a ‘snake hisses’ to ward of threat and to retain its prominence without venom being spilled, so should the anger be, a show of unpleasantness more subtly only for the breaches and not on the individuals. All should earnestly practice to master it slowly but surely – if we need to transcend anger altogether. Magnanimity, resourcefulness, compassion combined with yoga and breathing exercises based on foundations of rationality and spirituality can shape every individual and community he belongs to be full of tolerance and equity.

CBT and how to use it for daily Mindfulness and help others

Excellent service from MoodyGym on practicable Cognitive Behavioral Techniques to help the depressed and moody and light them up…

What you think is what you feel

Events lead to Thoughts which lead to Feelings which lead to Behaviors.
When events happen in life, we develop thoughts and feelings about those events, which affect our behavior.

10 types of warped thinking

Type of error + Hints for contesting the error

1. ALL or NONE THINKING

  • Is it really all or none?
  • Just because there is one problem does it mean that everything had been ruined?
  • Are there any positive outcomes?
  • What is the evidence that everything is wrecked?
  • 2. OVERGENERALISATION

  • One error does not mean multiple errors.
  • Can you learn to improve so that it won’t happen again?
  • Does it really mean you have these characteristics all the time?
  • 3. MENTAL FILTER

  • Is this part that you are focusing on the real full picture? Have you misinterpreted the big picture?
  • 4. DISQUALIFYING the POSITIVE

  • What is the evidence that the positive comment can be dismissed so readily?
  • 5. JUMPING to CONCLUSIONS

  • Have I any evidence from which to derive this conclusion?
  • Do I know what that person is thinking?
  • Do I have any real evidence of what will happen in the future?
  • 6. MAGNIFICATION or MINIMISATION

  • Is the problem so big?
  • Have I not appreciated my achievements?
  • 7. EMOTIONAL REASONING

  • Just because I feel sad/anxious/upset/miserable doesn’t mean I am in reality a miserable, emotionally inadequate person.
  • Do I really need to feel so miserable about this event? Is it really worthy of my feelings of misery?
  • 8. SHOULD STATEMENTS

  • Why should it be like that? It might be easier if it was that way, but it doesn’t mean that it should/must/ought to be like that.
  • 9. LABELLING and MISLABELLING

  • Is that a truly accurate name for that event, that person, for me?
  • 10. PERSONALISATION

  • Am I really responsible for that?

The seven areas of personal vulnerability?

What are your particular problem areas. (if any) and do you need to build up your unwarping skills in these areas?

What sort of areas are you vulnerable in?

The most common areas are:

  • The need for approval (you are very sensitive to criticism and the good opinions of others, you feel the need to keep others happy).
  • The need to be loved (you feel happiest when others approve and love you, without it you feel worthless and rejected, if someone you like doesn’t like you, you feel unlovable).
  • The need to succeed (you feel you must be outstanding in one area at least, you feel inferior and a failure if you do not succeed).
  • The need to be perfect (if it can’t be done perfectly, then there is no point in doing it at all, falling short of perfection is pathetic and a C (even B) grade is unacceptable).
  • The sense of feeling deserving (if you can’t get what you are entitled to, then it’s not fair, it’s unjust, unreasonable and frustrating; if you are kind and thoughtful then others should be kind back).
  • The sense of being able to influence all things (if something happens, somebody gets upset then it is your fault and you are responsible).
  • The sense that happiness is contingent upon external things (you feel you have no control over your emotions, your feelings, that happiness is dependent on external factors).

Being nice to yourself for a change

The first exercise to improve self-esteem involves trying to treat yourself the way that you would a friend.

  • Every day in the next week spend 10 minutes doing something that you like to do.

    This means indulging yourself, spending time alone, if you like doing that, with music, etc. (Need ideas?) Develop a list of potential events which you enjoy doing.

  • Spend 5 minutes everyday being as nice to yourself as you would to a friend who has problems with their self-esteem.

    For example, if you react badly to a situation, don’t say to yourself "you worthless worm", say "it’s pretty normal to react that way, you are being hard on yourself. I think you handled the situation as best you could", etc.

  • The Unwarping

  • To identify some methods to attack your warped thoughts that don’t involve mentally contesting the warp by ‘straight talking’.
  • To look at the areas of personal vulnerability in greater detail.
  • To work on your self-esteem some more. The first aim is to use other methods than straight talking or personal dialogue to contest those warpy thoughts. Why use other methods than straight talking?

  • The alternative methods for contesting warpy thoughts will include:

  • Taking the role of the reporter (turning Clark Kent into Superman)  :
    Consider taking the role of a reporter describing the events that you get upset by. This will allow you to step back from your deep involvement and automatic responses and allow you to distinguish observations from interpretations.
  • Increasing positive self-interpretations: 
    This technique will also help your self-esteem. People vulnerable to depression and anxiety often tell themselves negative things: You might be used to telling yourself how pathetic, miserable and under-deserving you are. In this exercise, it’s time to reverse it and credit yourself with some positive statements to replace all those negative ones! Replace the negative attributes that you seem to ruminate (think constantly) about with positive attributes that you might have.
  • Setting up experiments to test thoughts and interpretations:
    During the week find an occasion when you get overly upset. Write down the event and your interpretation of it in your workbook. Also take note of your consequent behavior. Then go around and ask others how they would feel about such a situation, and about their reactions to it. Sample at least 3 people for this event. Compare your interpretation of the event with others that they come up with and enter this in your workbook.
  • Doing "Let’s Experiment": 
    The main idea is to attempt to test whether your thoughts or views are straight or warpy by changing your behavior. Act in direct contradiction to the feelings you have. (But take warning…You need to preserve social norms…Don’t do any crackpot things, and don’t do anything inconsiderate to others).
  • Talking yourself out of warped thoughts (being your own coach): 
    Say positive and affirmative statements by yourself
  • Doing "Mental Biofeedback":
    For this technique you’ll need to either purchase a wrist counter or keep a pocket notebook.Monitor your negative and warpy thoughts by clicking the dial of the wrist counter every time you notice a negative thought. Otherwise, keep the little pocket notebook handy and tabulate the number of negative thoughts and feelings you have during the day.

    The central key to overcoming and preventing negative emotions is to challenge and contest your warped thoughts or your warped thinking habits. There are two questions to ask yourself if you find you can’t identify the type of warped thought or you are not sure what content to work on.

These questions are: What is the evidence? What are the alternatives?

Disproportionate Advantage and how to exercise it?

When there’s a disproportionate advantage, it’s meant to be exploited and that’s usual. If you happen to be a hapless victim to that orgy, what’s will be your response? It depends on the level of loss incurred – emotional, financial, etc. What happened to me was financial and travel stress running around that resulted in a rational reflection and this digression. My entire Saturday (11th Jan 2014) was spent running from pillar to pillar in the belief that it would save me some but in the end victimized by smartness, luck and skillful advantage – what others have over you in certain areas. My laptop, a overwhelmed workhorse of yesteryears – ASUS F8Va model bought then for $2500 (about 5 years ago), still dutifully performing to its fullest potential had a fatal fall when I unskillfully transferred it from my left shoulder to both the shoulders to even out the monstrous weight – I’m yearning for my ultralight!! That’s where my skill let me down and the laptop on that unfortunate Wed 8th Jan night after alighting from Aileen’s car walking through the Yishun garden towards my adobe of stay. I intuitively knew it would have suffered. My inkling came true as I lighted it up and it complained with blurred lines and wore a pixelated demeanor. A sore to my sight and productivity, for next 2 days, managed with an extra monitor and enquired about fixing it with the local computer dealer. He said he’ll test and replace it for $160 but had to leave it overnight. I was apprehensive to leaving it alone as it was full of data nothing indecent nonetheless still priceless. I said I’ll lay it with him on Fri afternoon but managed to be there only on the evening and the guy there (whom I struck a deal) was absent and had to deal with his colleague and he promptly changed it to another display panel – which I supposed to be an exact equivalent. I was happy, after duly paying, returned home. Took a breather and started work. To my disillusionment, the display panel was dimly lit and icons were bigger and suddenly it hit me that I should check the resolution – oh…I’ve been downgraded. I promptly reached out to the guy and said I want a similar resolution panel (1440 x 900) and not a lower one (1280 x 760). I said I’ll limp back on Sat to get it done. Already dissatisfied with the service and further amped up by my friend that this kind of laptop is an outdated model and it’s good to check with the model maker ASUS on the availability and serviceability as a first step. With this advice, I set in motion to 1st fire a call to the hotline on Sat morning to be nicely asked to go to service center in person as she (the person in call) can’t really find out the status – I think they are in manufacturing and servicing aircraft parts!! – so damn difficult to locate erstwhile parts. Being an unfortunate chap, I turned up at the service center only to find that this part (a WXGA+ display LCD screen) is not available anymore and even servicing will not be done. I cursed the half/shelf life of modern laptops – I think we should all eventually lead to a display piece with all of the processing done in cloud to mitigate this never ending technology improvisation cycle. From here I proceeded to check out my luck in Sim Lim, the legendary hardware haven of Singapore. My luck greeted with a shop having an exact model and with a verbal confirmation that the screen is perfect and he can change it. I was worried of the exiting panel being changed elsewhere, so I went for a bargain of $60 (from $80) to do the replacement myself – essentially get it done at my old place. I took the train all the way from Sim Lim to Yishun with the assumption that I had struck gold – going to get it done for $90. When the original guy (whom I struck a deal earlier) started to change for me and this time luck was aggressive in ditching me, the panel was even worse. So in the melee of disappointment, I exhorted the local dealer to get whatever it gets to fix this ASAP – by getting a higher resolution panel. He promptly said he’ll talk to his contact and get it fixed by tomorrow and that I can pick it up Sun noon. Soon I called the Sim Lim dealer about the display panel problem and had to make round another trip to return the laptop with faulty panel and get my $60 and $100 deposit back. This to and fro trip dearly brought severe pain to my knees of incessant walking, climbing, standing in train and stress due to travel. After coming to my dwelling place, took a breather and proceeded to library to return around 9:30 pm and checked into the shop to enquire whether his contact has comeback on new panel. To my shock, he said it’s already done and demanded the extra $30 to my already paid $160. I became suspicious and demanded to see the old panel to which he said it has been disposed already. Well I knew, he has simply cleaned/did something to my old panel and has reinstalled it again to get me the resolution I was looking for. I was pissed and I neither wanted to enter into tirade session nor quarrel. I was in need of my laptop dearly to go about my work on Sun and the following week. I was cheated high and low, left and right.

My reflection, fact followed by action I took:

  1. I had less knowledge to confront and the opposite party exploited his disproportionate advantage
  2. It is tantamount to unethical business
  3. I had a relationship to maintain wherein in future if I need any urgent computer repair this is only one down the block
  4. I decided not to pursue on this matter further even though I was defrauded to the tune of $150 (against my total cost $190)
  5. Perhaps I had a previous life debt with this person and paying back that debt
  6. For the amount of physical, travel and financial distress – I had to forgive and move on
  7. What most people do in the case of back-stabbing is to curse – but I refrained from that too – thanks to my mindful training from lots of books I had been reading then
  8. In future I’d reserve my options and will weigh on the time/cost factor to do business with this person again.

The lesson of the day, it’s ok to have a disproportionate advantage but never exploit it but increase the volume to achieve your ends – you tread rational lines instead unethical. Every dime you earn ethically deserves great respect and to be shunned from being spent that involves unethical profiteering. Do unto others what you want others to do unto you. Here the other person dearly exploited but I reserved my reaction – that’s being mindful and never become a victim again.