Repost: Change

Repost: Change

What is a life hack that you think everybody should know? ( Million Dollar Info is a long article but is worth it Guys ENJOY! Never Judge A Book by Its Cover

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit**. – Will Durant**

There’s a reason why you can’t stick to a diet.

There’s a reason why you can’t “get Math”.

There’s a reason why you can’t stop procrastinating.

There’s a reason why you can’t stop smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol.

There’s a reason why you can’t do what you know needs to be done.

There’s a reason why the person you are right now and the person you want to become is separated by a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon.

It’s not because of your willpower (though initially it may be).

And it’s not because you’re lazy or inadequate.

You want to know the real reason?

It’s because you literally don’t have the right circuitry.

Here’s what this breaks down to:

Your brain is the most advanced supercomputer on the planet or the known universe.

In fact, it was the model for the original computer prototype.

Your brain is compiled of 100 billion neurons all in an interlinked network, with the ability to send a signal from one end of the chain to the other in less than a second.

Your brain is then connected to your nervous system, which is over 90,000 miles long, all wrapped up in a tiny package called “you”.

Your brain is very adaptable to change, this is called “neuroplasticity”. It’s how you heal from traumatic accidents, internalize new information, and develop new patterns, new ways of doing things.

Neuroplasticity happens every time you come into contact with something new. Your brain reacts to the stimulus and reconfigures itself to adapt to the stimulus, even slightly. Most of the time, this is going on in the background of your awareness.

Here’s an example that you can probably relate to: as a teenager, driving was foreign to you. Now? You probably drift off into autopilot mode when you drive. Why? Because your brain has created a certain pathway, a certain circuitry to the skill of “driving”. Driving was once this big thing, now it’s incredibly easy. In fact, you are more likely to get into an accident 20 years later than when the day you first started driving because you are drifting into automaticity, which creates lack of focus, and as a result – an accident.

Here’s another example: I have a friend who is dyslexic. He naturally became averse to anything involving words, so he dipped himself in the world of numbers. Many years later, he got into MIT via the strength of his Math skills. Why? He hard-wired the skills of Math and computation into his brain. He is still bad at words and phrasing.

Why do I bring this up?

This is solely to get you to buy into the fact that you can mold and shape yourself into who you want to be because your brain is designed for learning and growing.

This all sounds peachy. But what’s the main barrier to this?

Conservation of energy. Your brain is the largest consumer of energy and calories in your body. It uses that to upkeep the brain and recycle nerve cells.

Creating neural pathways is a very excruciating process that takes a ton of energy. Your brain would rather stick to old pathways to be more energy efficient. We know these as “habits”.

Your brain does not want to change on its own and it will resist change with everything it has.

In fact, it coats those old pathways in a substance called “myelin”, which makes those pathways easier to access and faster to fire nerve signals with each use. Imagine if you saran-wrapped a piece of food, placed it in the microwave and set it for high heat. What would happen? The saran wrap would literally melt into the food. That’s what’s happening when you use a pathway for an extended period of time and it gets coated in myelin.

The myelination process is very active in adolescence/young adulthood because it’s preparing the brain for “real” adulthood. This process then starts to slowly taper off (though it still is active).

This is the reason for all those “child prodigies” who seem to be blessed with “natural talent”. They are “heavily myelinated”.

This is why a lot of the habits we develop in our teenage years tend to stick around (for better or for worse) because the brain is just spewing connections left and right. Again, myelination.

This is why learning new skills and material is difficult and mentally taxing; generally, it seems to be “easier” to learn stuff at a younger age.

This is why you feel that you can’t quit doing a counterproductive activity.

This is why most people bring their past into the future and as a result, live a repetitive and monotonous existence.

How do we build new brain circuitry? Deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice is the act of consciously focusing on an area of potential improvement and giving it 100% concentration.

Focus is what signals the brain to create new neural pathways and speed up the myelination process.

By focusing on a specific action and repeating it over and over, you are telling your brain that you need it to act in a certain way for certain situations.

The brain will then adapt to that situation and make it easier and easier to perform the next time. Your body will also adapt to the stimulus.

This is why “perfect practice makes perfect”.

This is in contrast to the way many people practice any activity: distracted and half-hearted.

If you want to get better at concentration, you sit down and concentrate for as long as you can on a single subject.

If you want to get better at piano, focus on playing piano intently with no distractions.

Once you do this, you mark down your performance strengths and weaknesses so you can make adjustments for next time you practice piano or concentrate intently on a piece of work.

Over time, you correct the weaknesses and become better at that skill.

A small caveat, though: deliberate practice is not fun. If you’re doing it right, it should feel like a rock is sitting on your head.

You are literally changing the physical makeup of your brain every time you engage in deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice is designed to take you to the very brink of your mental limits and expand them.

This is the performance secret of superstar athletes, top performers at work, and anyone else who has achieved a high degree of skill and/or excellence at something.

How do you start? Pick a task like learning a new skill (coding, playing guitar, socializing with people) and give it 100% concentration. It will feel awkward, it will feel painful at first – but it’s worth it.

You will notice as you extend this skill-based learning into different areas of your life, you will see that everyday things get easier and easier and easier to the point where you can start to sink into “autopilot”. This is how you plateau. For some things, this is fine. For others, it is extremely detrimental.

Once your benchmark is surpassed, you must constantly challenge yourself and keep pushing for the next level if you want to keep performing at a high(er) level.

Addiction works in a similar fashion. Over time, enough “positive reinforcement” was sent to the brain and a pathway became encoded because the addictive behavior was repeated enough times.

This is part of the reason why addicts go through a period of “withdrawal”. It’s the brain’s last-ditch effort to not have to use up energy to create new pathways.

But here’s the good news: plasticity is competitive. The physical and mental landscape of your brain can shift given enough space and practice.

It takes time. It takes time for your brain and body to adapt to your “new normal”.

This is also not easy. If it were, we’d all be living our best lives. As you can see, that is not the case.

No one plays Bach on their first try. No one quits hard drugs that they relied on for years on their first try. But it gets easier by little steps over the course of a day, month, year, and lifetime.

Deliberate practice is the best life hack that you can do. Best of all, it compounds.

After 10 years of committing to a lifestyle of deliberate practice, you will be absolutely amazed at what your life will look like.

And trust me, you will never want to go back to your “standard protocol”.

You are always changing. You can decide to change for the better or for the worse.

Short #65

Short #65

solipsism
/ˈsɒlɪpsɪz(ə)m/

noun
the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.

The simplest question I asked myself when faced with the dictionary meaning of a word I’d mused about and then forgot,

Is this the extent of the world that my own soul, brain, self could come up with?

Is this really it?

And to that, my heart could only whisper,

“No…”

Man of Medan

Man of Medan

It’s often the strangest of circumstances and the greatest of coincidences that dictate where a man found himself. Whether it be the smooth tinkling of a harp or the harsh screech of a gull, each brought solace upon it’s listener in its own way.
For James, his dreams of grandeur blessed with the faintest of violins, were interrupted by the sudden scream of what seemed like a thousand gulls intent on dismantling the very ship he sailed on. As the man shaped by the salty breeze, the rough seas and the blessings of Poseidon himself, fell off his bunk somewhere on the captain’s deck, the ghost of a ship groaned.
The Ourang Medan had finally found land after decades and decades of being lost to the tides and it’s sole occupant, slowly steadied his form and got on his feet. As his hands clawed at the bed for grip, a slightly faint glow of his blazing sapphire hues took over the dark room. At 6’4, the man wasn’t the shortest of the bunch, and months of sailoring a ghost ship meant to be forgotten, had rendered him with minimal fat, leaving him with bulky veins criss-crossing his rather monsterous arms with a few travelling up his neck only for a singular vein to march right across the left of his temple.
As his rough palms dusted off the last of the sea’s salt from his sturdy coat, he furrowed his brow and clunked away on the iron clad floor from the captain’s cabin onto the deck and let out a sigh of relief.

And ’twas done.

He rushed back to the captain’s cabin and released the anchor, parking the ship in the harbor and jumped overboard, only to swim his way to the port.

In the coming three hours and a quick conversation later, James had found himself seated in a car to the only place he knew on the outskirts of the city, having sold the ship, and having become a rather very rich man in a matter of hours if not minutes.

Tired and famished, he made his way to his room as naturally as his muscle memory and days of dreams would carry him and finally crashed onto a bed
that was not a bundled mass of cotton wet by the overly humid misty seas.

A whole 30 hours later, the sapphire of his hues gleamed once more as he slowly came out of his coma like stupor.

As James of the Ourang Medan finally came to his senses, Sir James Knight slowly started to shape himself once more.
As the scraggly beard found a shapely trim, and the man bearing a blaze of the sea wore a purfume more suited to a gala amongst royalty, an entirely different man stepped out of the room that once had given a place of rest to the weary captain.

Dressed in an Italian suit of black the shone just ever so slightly against the ambient light, enhanced by the very tasteful platinum suit pieces, his ensemble was completed by a Vacheron Constantine on his left wrist and a pair of silken gloves donning his roughed up palms.

With a slight tap behind each of his steps, he stepped forth with confidence and swagger only bestowed upon those of royal mannerisms.

In due time, he found himself slowly but surely finishing every dish baked or cooked in the kitchen just to give his saltened taste buds some life and his parched tongue some fluids and a return to normal life.

The Answers I found. (Part 1)

The Answers I found. (Part 1)

I suppose the people I lost remember me for my flaws and their outcomes.

I suppose I remember the people I lost for the good in their souls and the things that could be.

No wonder, we can never be on the same page.

For they believe, I’ll forever be the person who I once was.

For I believe, they will forever be the people they once were.

How do you make peace with that?

You live and let live.

How do I make peace with that?

I don’t know.

The flicker of hope that once found it’s place in my heart refuses to die out. I want to hope that one day we could just forget all the pain from the past and relive our lives without the mistakes our misguided selves made.

This is a fool’s ballad written on a paper and tossed into the oceans after being packed in a bottle, only to forgotten for all eternity until one fine day, someone finds it, and the very lie that we have moved on, turns upon itself.

Life is not a movie. It’s not ‘3 idiots’ for the pair of Raju and Farhan to go looking for their best mate.

But a life without dreams, hope and love, is just a passing existence, tis just living for the sake of living.

Dreaming of impossible things is something that children do. But the very reason I live in the world I live, is cause someone dared to dream of the impossible.

Here rests my Ballad to the day that has the chances of coming true of 1 in 14 billion.

(Edit : This lacks the finesse or structure for obvious reasons. My apologies for rambling on about stupid shit.)

Micanomics

Micanomics

Consciousness surfaced slowly with the sun. Floating in the warmth of the light and the clean bed sheets carried with it a feeling of glee. He eventually decided he’d slept in enough and sat up. He felt a crinkle in his shirt pocket – apparently he’d gone to bed fully dressed from his night out. He pulled out a napkin that he hadn’t remembered putting there. On it was a number and a red lipstick kiss. He laughed and started to crumple up the paper, but then flattened it out again and put it in the drawer of his desk. If he ever felt like sinning, it’d be nice to have someone to sin with. Hopefully he could remember the girl’s face.

With an empty stomach, he got dressed and headed out without too much messing around. Mica helped on Saturdays to prepare the church for the service the next day, and to run programs for the kids. An added bonus of working with the church was free breakfast and lunch.

At the town center was the usual Saturday bustle. A couple pickup trucks were parked on the side of the road near Bill’s Inn with townsfolk selling fruit and flowers picked from their home gardens. Couples and groups of friends milled about the pop-up farmer’s market and the general store. Mica gave a few dollars to an elderly man selling lilies, and took a few bunches in his arms on the way to the church.

Harvey and Annie had just arrived as well, busing themselves with tin trays of home-cooked food being warmed up on gas burners set on top of trellis tables. Annie looked up from her work to see Mica before Harvey did. The pretty brunette was visibly pregnant through her flowing, floral sundress. She walked up to meet Mica with open arms and a beaming smile, catching him off guard and knocking several of lilies out of his arms with an excited embrace.

“Oh! I’m sorry.” She said, still hugging him. “Harvey told me you’re up to it! You know, the, uhhh -“ she released Mica and gestured energetically with her hands, trying to remember the word. “The officiating! Thank you!” She hugged quickly hugged him again and Mica nervously hugged her back with his one free arm.

“It’s my pleasure. I just hope I can do it justice. You’re looking well, by the way,” Mica said. Annie stepped back and rubbed her belly lovingly.

“Hey, hey, hey. Don’t be hitting on my wife-to-be.” Harvey had appeared beside them and was picking up the flowers that had been dropped. “It’s good to see ya, Mica.” He gave him a quick side arm hug. “Care for some breakfast before we kick some ball with the kids?”

Before a response could be made, a klaxon horn wailed above the town from the mining ware house. Mica looked to Harvey. “You think a mine collapsed.”

“No,” he said thoughtfully. He turned his red head around slowly, seeing everyone in town stopped in their tracks, wondering what was happening. “No one is digging mines on Saturday. I don’t know why there’s an alarm.”

Suddenly, the klaxon cut out. The whole town was silent. Mica looked around and saw that big Bill had stepped out of his Inn to look around. The ivory-handled .44 magnum was tucked in his belt. The smell of blood had started to waft in from among the trees. Mica wished he had his long knife with him. He took a moment to remember the light magic he knew. A glowing orb appeared in his hand, ready for whatever was in the trees.

Then, there was a chorus of murderous shouting. Figures darted from behind bushes brandishing clubs. They ran inhumanly fast, like dogs chasing rabbits, cracking townsfolk in the skulls and knocking them unconscious. One of the attackers appeared in front of the church, screaming like he was in agonizing pain. He was clubbing down old women and children before he darted at Mica and his company. Harvey ran to retrieve a hatchet from his truck, just a few feet away. Just as the attacker was upon him, Harvey swung the hatchet with both hands and buried it in his ribs. But it didn’t stopped the crazed individual. He delivered a vicious strike to Harvey’s right shoulder that threw him sideways into his truck and snapped the club like a twig. Harvey fell onto the pavement, unconscious. His assailant grabbed the handle of the hatchet and wrenched it from his torso with a grunt. He brought the grizzly tool down on Harvey’s neck.

Annie was the next person that this madman saw, and he ran at her without a moment of thought. Mica unleashed the beam of light from his palm into the man’s face, blinding him. He only stopped dazed for a moment before he began slashing at the air in front of him and walking aimlessly. Mica grabbed Annie and pulled her to Bills Inn, thinking the big man could protect them. But when he got there, Bill was laying unconscious or dead with the rest of them.

Annie sank to her knees, screaming hysterically. Two of the attackers appeared from around the corner of the inn. Mica realized who they were now. He grabbed the pistol from Bill’s unmoving hand and aimed it at one of the blood cult warriors. “Rotten scum,” he spat, then blasted a baseball-sized hole in the chest of one. He cast a beam to blind the second berserker, then cocked the pistol for the second shot. Mica shot it through his head, exploding it.

Trixyalisis.

Trixyalisis.

The ping of the staff made it seem that her entire staff had weight of atleast a small singularity that had crashed into that mass, creating a gravity wave of a visible frequency.
That.. Was spectacular prowess.
He was just, dumbfounded by the sheer prowess of the witch, until she explained the entire concept of what she did.
Interesting.
So she could manipulate just one type of energy coursing through physical matter. A concept that back on earth was only managed in electromagnetic fields and nothing else.
So was magic equivalent to current in terms of pure physics? Would that be interchangeable?
He understood but he did not quite understand.
More observations were required.
He kept looking on as the wave traveled through matter until, he responded,
“Can you create balls of light? If we cannot explore by magic, we can atleast try to check reflections and shadows to see where it goes.”

It was just a muse in logic. Something he had done when trying to hunt for the more elusive tachyons. Instead of trying to look for them, he proved their existence by the effect they had on individual subatomic particles as theorized.
Hunting for something that could not be seen had definitely to be a task of trying to see what effect said body had on its environment.
In case of the Higgs-boson, it pushed matter away and gave the universe its weight and mass.
In case of a dragon, it definitely had destroyed and burnt parts of the cave it resided in, as was obvious in case of any being that occupied any space.

Trixy lanterns.

Trixy lanterns.

“Trix has a few tools for that, right?” Mandy spoke, eyeing the girl that seemed to be zoning out.
“Of course, observe.” She lifted her staff. Closing her eyes while she spoke mumbled some form of incantation to herself. When she opened her eyes again, she tapped her staff to the ground, releasing an invisible wave of magic through the surrounding area. While the others couldn’t really detect it, james’ innate ‘enhancements’ would make it easy to detect. The wave was quick and far reaching. To put it simply, it was like a sonar ping on a nautical vessel, except magic..

“No potentially threatening things spotted yet. Oh!” Trix remembered after a moment why she did what she did. “This is search magic. I send out a light wave of magic that reflects off of magic sources. Since living things have an innately have a bit of magic in them, it will bounce off them and back to me in a sense, allowing me to gain a sense and feeling if something is around depending on how much Is reflected back. Typically something much magically stronger will reflect back a stronger effect. I can simply focus a longer range search in a cone towards the entrance of the cave to detect if the drake is in fact down there. Their strength makes it easy to tell if what is down there is our target.” She looked between everyone. Hoping her explanation was sufficient. “Conjuring isn’t my area of expertise, im afraid I can’t summon something to inspect the cave for us.”

Reconnaissance.

Reconnaissance.

Listening.
Thats all he had done for the waking hours ever since the less than stellar bang on the table. The ragtag bunch of friends had a snarky goblin, poking sarcastic jabs whenever possible, a loudmouth of a knight, speaking of bravado and a soft spoken airheaded witch who spoke of magic and books and any thing she found fancy, though the loner rogue barely had much dialogue, often just supplementing with an occasional murmur or response, his eyes darting across the shadows and landscapes.

The drake, eh?
A giant flying lizard, who may spit blobs of magic fire or whatever element it was supposed to be born of. He had read about a few draconian creatures in his childhood. If this world was anything like it, this was going to be sighting worth burning in memory.
Nonetheless, he just listened and listened until,
Cave system at the bottom of a mountain.
If an enraged wild elephant on earth was anything of an example, he knew following a beast to it’s lair was a fool’s errand. The cave would possibly collapse onto itself trapping them in or burying them alive.

The reconnaissance had to be carried out carefully. A beast could turn out to be a horde and getting overrun would be the least of their worries then. Somehow he had taken a liking to this bunch of raggedy mishmash of beings, it would be less than fortunate if something were to happen to them.
So he asked in a sombre yet inquisitive tone,
“Do we have any items or magic which aid into exploring a cave without entering? If not, we need to gauge the threat level before we move in on the flying drake.”

Journey!

Journey!

The monstrous being turned to the petite green goblin, standing at attention only to loosen his form as he was asked to follow and meet his team. Were they a team? They seemed more like a bunch of friends out on a halloween picnic dressed in fancy wear.
He only tilted his head curiously.
Magic huh?
He had yet to experience the full extent of magic, being more of a brute melee basher than dealing with any magic at all, support, travel or otherwise.
Before moving over to the table, he had given a once over to the remaining jobs, seemingly about all sorts of creatures and situations, fantastical or otherwise. And now he stood, ready to take one of them on.
In true earthlike fashion of respect, he offered a firm handshake to each member of the river’s, not enough to break limbs but enough to slightly pull them off their feet.
Most interestingly, each touch of skin tingled upon his hand and subsequently let him know even more of their strengths and weaknesses and the way he would expect attacks from all of them. A touch of information, an interesting power mayhaps.

He tried to formulate a plan of action with his next course, only to realise, “When do we set off?”

“We set off at once!” Darius bangs his enclosed fist on the table, while the rest of the table cheers in agreement…

It was about a day later now, constant marching and a night camping had finally led them to the mountain that the drake was sighted on. The face of the mountain that they approached was dressed with a thick forest, one that reached up a good bit before fading into the rock and stone that dominated the rest of the mountainside. Before approaching, Ray took out a small spyglass looked up at the mountain searching for anything out of the ordinary before they went beneath the treeline. His face was pensive as she scanned high up the mountain, sighing after a moment before he addressed the rest of the party.
“It was spotted on this side of the mountain, but i don’t see anything up near the top of the mountain. If I had to guess, there might be a cave opening somewhere deeper in the forest, rather than up high on the mountain itself.”

“Or we’re hiking around the whole damn thing. Huh?” Mandy replied, rolling her eyes. “Let’s keep focused. Info is usually spotty with monsters like this. Not to mention, it’s probably not the only thing in this forest.”

Rivers Four! (+1)

Rivers Four! (+1)

That was fast.
One blink and the green lady was set at her table with her legs up like nobody’s business and the next, she was at the quest board, looking at the tiers of quest. James kept his observations to himself though, trying to avoid discomforting the patrons while holding his makeshift bag up in the air, so as to not bonk them with it’s contents, much of which was weaponry and bandit loot.

While some part of his jacketed shirt did graze against some heads, he apologised and moved forward until he was at the board, reading.

As his hues quickly went over the pages hanging neatly in tiers by nature of quest and type of crew required, a blade sang through the air and landed on a page with a weird font, something that was somewhat legible but largely unintelligible, as if some sort of ancient latin based Greek based in hieroglyphs.
“Apologies, I was just-.”, hoping to not have hit something by accident,
“Drake?”, he inquired as he turned to the green female.
“We could do it, if you would have someone as inexperienced as me on your team.”
As proof, he held up his guild coin.

“Oh that’s no problem, don’t you worry.” She kicked off the board, ripping her dagger out of the wall and catching the job posting as it fell off the board. She smirked at him as she walked towards the receptionist counters and placed the offering in front of one of the women.
“I’ll be taking this, along with my party the River’s Four, and our newest party member, right over here.” She pointed over at the man that had just agreed to her offer. The receptionist was Lea thankfully, and while she would probably chide that certain party for picking something out of their league, the fact that James was tagging along meant that they would probably be fine. She sighed and nodded her head, stamping the contract with an under way mark and slid it under the counter, waving away Mandy, who confidently strode past James on her way back to her table.
“Come with me, I’ll introduce you.”

There’s Mandy the goblin, self titled leader. She’s a jack of all trades when it comes to combat archetype, her only real bad points are taking hits and using magic
Trix the Witch. Support and damage caster. She’s the group’s magic expert
Darius the knight. Resident meathead and proud knight. No one is as good at getting as him
And Ray. Dashing rogue and information gatherer. He specializes in stealth and sneak attacks, and is handy with lockpicking

Together they made the River’s Four, an ambitious rookie adventuring party made of childhood friends. While they were merely bronze ranked, they tried their best; most likely by the end of the year, they might hit silver rank! That might change however, with this next quest they took on, and the man they were set to travel with.