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We Each Need to Keep a Clear Head

We can dial down the level of complexity that otherwise surrounds us in order to maintain effectiveness and have more of a life

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The Leftist news media has society in a stranglehold, and contorts reality every single day. Even in the case where if you actively choose to ignore political events, the spinmeister media has a way of reeling you back in, through soundbites, captivating headlines, and lurid photos. Juggling all of our personal and professional responsibilities, along with the ever-represent ‘requirement’ to stay informed adds up to a world of complexity, which can confound and debilitate us.

Complexity is frustrating. It causes us to spend untold numbers of hours paying attention to what could be summarized in minutes or avoided altogether, and countless sums of money to diminish or undo what perhaps didn’t need to be done at all.

Complexity Keeps Showing Up

How does complexity show up in our lives? You’re frazzled by the staggering amount of technology already in your life. You need to find a manual to understand the manual that came with your computer.

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You constantly find yourself immersed in a sea of technical terms, such as data relay, encryption, USB debugging, and CPU usage, that you would greatly prefer to not have encountered at all. You have no chance of understanding the two-dozen buttons on the remote control devices that come with your television set, DVR, DVD, Tivo, Dish, DirecTV and Roku.

Merely because you were born in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s and are a functioning member of society, the relentless drumbeat of complexity continues every day. Yes, the world is complex, society is complex, and your life is complex, but antidotes that offer relief are available and they are within your grasp.

Designed with Intelligence?

Any product or service that you acquire, any piece of technology, or anything you add to your professional or personal life comes with instructions, options, and features that someone else – an engineer – designed before it ever made its way to you.

As author Vance Packard told us 60+ years ago in The Waste Makers, when it comes to operating a gadget, what we think represents our own shortcomings is often erroneous. The manufacturer made many decisions before the product was ever shipped from the plant, involving the quality of materials to be used and the design and layout of the various switches, buttons, and dials that adorn the appliance.

The intelligence with which engineers design a product dramatically impacts how easy or difficult it will be for the typical consumer to use it effectively. Consider clothes dryers, microwave units, blenders, radio/alarm clocks, and DVD players. Some of them, mysteriously, have instructions too complicated and confusing to fathom, while others are easier to operate. Did you luck out, or did the engineer/designer back at the plant have something to do with it?

Hereafter, seek products designed with intelligence. Recognize that having fewer switches, buttons, or dials does not necessarily mean that the product is less sophisticated or offers fewer benefits or features. Quite the opposite might be true!

Simplicity, rather than complexity, is your product preference among items that otherwise are relatively equal in terms of cost, durability, expected life cycle, and warranty. If one item has dozens of features, while another has only a handful (namely the ones you need!), choose the latter and don’t fret about a possible upgrade later.

You Are the Boss

You’ve personally acquired most of what surrounds you and are largely responsible for your immediate environment. Purchasing items with excessive instructions and complex operating procedures invites complexity into your life.

Less, quite often, can be more in terms of the favorable impact on your life, peace of mind, and quality of leisure time. In an age where a satellite dish can bring 60,000+ programs per month to your television set, ask yourself, would 4,000 or 5,000 programs be sufficient?

When I face a technical challenge, I give that task to a younger person – someone who has grown up with technology and to whom it is second nature.

The Wise Owl

By making basic but effective purchases and identifying needed helpers, we can keep complexity at bay. We can dial down the level of complexity that otherwise surrounds us in order to maintain effectiveness and have more of a life.

Exercise your power to acquire fewer television channels, subscribe to fewer publications, select products with a greater ease of use, and remember who is in control. You are! Not the government, not the media, and not some unseen force.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Education

Don’t Let Control-Freak Politicians Diminish Your Well-being

We can self-diagnose and act upon what ails us more effectively than any generation before us.

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In the last 18 months, we have witnessed how mayors and governors, particularly in Democrat strongholds, seek to control our lives. They take great, well-disguised joy in telling us when to come and go, what to wear, and how to act, while personally flouting their own edicts. Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan; Gavin Newsom, hanging on as governor of California; and Bill deBlasio, mayor of New York, immediately come to mind.

A bit of what they’ve decreed is benevolent and makes sense, but much of it extends beyond their duties and jurisdiction. Even in these challenging times, and despite intentional government interference, ours is the first era where people can effectively take charge of their own health.

Due to an abundance of information resources, available primarily via the Internet, we have the opportunity to diagnose and to act upon what ails us, more often and more effectively than any generation before us.

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Unquestionably, doctors play an important role and always will. We never want to substitute legitimate medical observation for what we conclude on our own. Still, what we can research and discover as a result of our comprehensive reading, increasingly, represents reasonably sound information.

Natural Cures Abound

In some instances we can avoid having to pay for expensive visits to doctors, outpatient services, clinics, or labs: Today, for whatever ails you, it’s possible to find potential natural remedies and to avoid ingesting pharmaceuticals. And why not? For tens of thousands of years prior to our recent history, people communed with nature and they gleaned many health-enhancing gifts that nature had to offer.

Untold numbers of herbal remedies, and plant and flower extracts were discovered through the ages, passed on to offspring, and are available to this today. One can search online and find potential natural cures for this affliction or that. Food is a remedy in many cases, as are legitimate supplements.

When else has humankind had the capability to learn so much, so easily, that could be of value to one’s health? Rather than endure a surgical procedure that, say, as recently as one score ago was often regarded as your only option, alternatives might well abound. Undertaking the exploration is worth the pursuit. Thereafter, if surgery is the most prudent path to take, with the advances in surgical procedures, it’s likely to be to your benefit.

The Array of Options

No matter what edicts a Kathy Hochul or a Bill DeBlasio levy in the name of ‘protecting’ us, ostensibly from ourselves, we have an array of options. We can find useful information to help lower blood pressure, stave off headaches, or reduce stress.

Meditation is effective as a stress reducer and immediately comes to mind. If you’ve never tried it, try it. Medical journals now discuss the multitude of benefits that accrue to regular meditators. The physical manifestation of meditation, namely yoga, is also beneficial to your health. Yoga is proving to be a physical “elixir” of sorts that can help you in ways that normally one wouldn’t presume.

Stretching can work wonders. The older you are, the more likely you need to be stretching on a regular basis. You can buy books on stretching, read articles on stretching, and view YouTube videos on the topic. You can gather a variety of key illustrations and carve out for yourself a program that could last for months or years. Even doing simple stretches yields amazing results.

Exercise, of course, is vital to effective mind-body functioning. Exercise offers you greater mobility, enhanced mental sharpness, better sleep, better digestion and elimination, and much more. As with meditation, yoga, and stretching, a host of web resources are available to guide you.

Supplements, Yes; Pharmaceuticals, No

As you assume greater charge of your health, you’ll encounter information about supplements. They will show up in your reading. Many people are confused between vitamins and food supplements, versus pharmaceuticals and prescription drugs.

Vitamins and supplements are the extracts of a larger volume of food. The best have no additives. They offer you the benefits, in part, that the original source would provide. Pharmaceuticals and prescription drugs, such as those in a pharmacy, are chemical compounds manufactured in a laboratory, to achieve a specific outcome within your body.

Pharmaceuticals are not natural and generally include a host of additives and preservatives. The list of ‘side’ effects issued at a rapid pace on TV commercials are the direct effects of ingesting artificial substances and abdicating control of your body in the hopes that such ‘magic pills’ will ‘fix’ you.

Work in Tandem

Enlightened doctors recognize the importance today of working with you. So, discover as much as you can about your situation before your appointment. Then, let the doctor know what you have uncovered, suspect, and conclude. It’s all grist for your personal health mill.

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Education

Frames of Mind: the Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Joe Biden has few skills in assimilating new information or in solving problems. What type of intelligence does he have? Hmm… hard to say.

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By now, everyone knows that Joe Biden has few if any skills in assimilating new information or in solving new problems. If only his “81” million voters knew this in advance. What type of intelligence does he have? Hmm… hard to say. Perhaps excerpts and key notes from the award-winning book Frames of Mind: the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, third edition, 2011, by Professor Howard Gardner, will shed some light on the matter.

Contemporary methods of assessing the intellect are not sufficiently well developed to allow assessment of an individual’s potentials or achievements in, say, navigating by the stars, mastering a new language, or composing music with a computer, among 100s of other tasks.

Previous efforts to establish independent intelligences have been unconvincing, chiefly because they rely on only one or, at the most, two lines of evidence. Separate “minds” or “faculties” have been posited solely on the basis of logical analysis, on the history of educational disciplines, on the results of intelligence testing, or on the insights obtained from brain study.

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Psychology and Testing

Until recent decades, most psychologists would agree with the assessment that intelligence testing was psychology’s greatest achievement, its chief claim to social utility, and an important scientific discovery in its own right.  Most scholars within psychology, and most outside the field, are now convinced that enthusiasm over intelligence tests has been excessive and that there are many limitations in the instruments themselves and in their uses.

▪ Much of the information sought in intelligence tests reflects knowledge gained from living in a specific social and educational milieu. In contrast, intelligence tests rarely assess skill in assimilating new information or in solving new problems. This bias toward “crystallized” rather than “fluid” knowledge can have astounding consequences. No existing technology is explicitly designed to test an individual’s intellectual profile.

▪ The idea of a single “horizontal” problem-solving apparatus is attractive, in fact the carefully selected problems to which it is said to apply turn out to be disturbingly similar to one another. In common with Piagetian psychology, nearly all the problems examined by information-processing psychologists prove to be of the logical-mathematical sort.

▪ It is time that our understanding of human intellect be informed by the findings that have accrued in the biological sciences since the time of Franz Joseph Gall. Yet, because psychologists and biologists inhabit different environments, the task of marshaling biology to explain human intelligence has barely begun.

Individual Adaption

When it comes to the most complex of human capacities, such as language, the individual can withstand even massive damage, including the removal of an entire hemisphere, during the first few years of life and still acquire the ability to speak in a reasonably normal fashion: this recovery suggests that large portions of the cortex remain uncommitted (and thus available for diverse uses) during early childhood.

▪ Numerous studies with rats and other species have confirmed that an enriched environment produces more elaborate behavior as well as palpable changes in brain size. Effects can be surprisingly specific.

▪ Of all the gifts with which individuals might be endowed, none emerges earlier than musical talent. Though speculation on this matter has been rife, it remains uncertain just why musical talent emerges so early and what the nature of this gift might be.

▪ An emerging sense of self proves to be a key element in the realm of the personal intelligences, one of overriding importance to individuals the world over.

An Indispensable Component

Various forms of personal intelligence clearly arise from the bond between the infant and its caretaker — in almost all cases, the infant and its mother. Evolutionary and cultural history have combined to make this attachment link an indispensable component of normal growth.

Comparative psychologists are sympathetic to the possibility that even the most treasured facets of human nature may be found, if in simpler forms, in other animals.

For every goal currently being pursued, there is presumably a set of intelligences which could readily be mobilized for its realization, as well as a set of intelligences whose mobilization would pose a greater challenge.

Viewing Intelligence in a Different Light

We have become much more aware of the roles of history, politics, and culture in circumscribing or thwarting our ambitious plans and in guiding them down paths that could not have been anticipated.

Intelligence should not be assessed in the same ways at different ages. The methods used with an infant or a preschooler ought to be tailored to the particular ways of knowing that typify these individuals and may be different from those employed with older individuals.

Even as computers offer a useful way to think about the marshaling of intelligences to master educational goals, the potential use of computers in the process of matching individuals to modes of instruction is substantial.

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