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Fear of the Unknown: 10 Surprising (And Exotic) Superstitions Around The World

Fear of the Unknown: 10 Surprising (And Exotic) Superstitions Around The World

Most people make mountains out of mole hills about superstitions. With minds like a steel trap, we give in to various (sometimes unfounded) superstitions, for no logical reason. The human psyche is a powerful cauldron of experiences, emotions, and forces. Some of those forces in our psyche lead us to happiness, fortune, and to see the sunnier side of things. Like opposite ends of the same coin, some of those forces are out of our control, and sometimes devastating.

Let’s take a look at 10 exciting, exotic, and surprising superstitions from some countries around the globe!

1. The Classic Ladder

Some superstitions, like walking under a ladder, are right on the nose. In my younger, defiant days, I did just that. I was proud as punch and willing to put ages of superstitious “hokum” to rest.

After I ventured the “danger” of walking under that ladder, readily laughing my way to the bank, a man bumped into me. He apologized profusely and groaned about how clumsy he was. I didn’t even realize, until hours later, that he nicked my wallet.

Some say that the two sides of a ladder form a triangle. Triangles are a sign of the Holy Trinity. Makes sense, right? Don’t walk under ladders or you’ll disrupt God, The Father, and The Holy Ghost.

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2. “Eat Your Carrots So You Can See Better!”

Mothers adore this old wives’ tale to get their children to eat carrots. It comes from the World War II era.

It turns out that this superstition was started in World War II. British pilots didn’t want people to find out they were using radars to shoot down enemies. Pilots told the public they were eating a massive amount of carrots. Imagine that! Figuring out that you can save your country from doom by eating carrots!

Knowing that there’s more than meets the eye, we’re going to look at the lion’s share of these beliefs that span many countries on our expansive and beautiful Earth.

3. “Who-Who” Is That!

In Egypt, it’s said whoever sees or hears an owl will get bad luck. What kind of bad luck? That’s hard to say.

What’s even more interesting than this sad omen is Egypt’s thoughts about scissors!

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4. Scissors

Some say it’s bad luck to open scissors (and close them) without using them for their cutting purpose. I can see that preventing people from using something other than it’s supposed to be used is a good idea, can’t you? Especially, if that “something” is sharp.

Let’s see what other countries are up to!

5. “Suffocation, No Breathing”

If you’re susceptible to sweating during nights, and need the soothing comforts of a whirring fan just to fall asleep, then you’ll want to stay away from Korea (especially North Korea). It’s said that sleeping with a fan on, suffocates you.

6. Happy New Years!

The next time you want to have an extraordinarily lucky, vibrant, and happy New Years, go to Spain and perform the superstitious tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight.

If you’re the type to eat food at night, be sure and stay away from Turkey…

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7. …Or You’ll Eat Flesh

In Turkey, it’s said that eating bubble gum after dark, turns that gum into dead flesh – human flesh. If you don’t mind being a cannibal, by all means: eat! Chew! Milk that gum for all its worth! That is to say, if you don’t mind offending (and terrifying) thousands of Turks.

8. Graveyards

Graveyards are where the dead (Lord rest their souls) sleep peacefully. Everyone who’s anyone has someone they love in a graveyard. Thankfully, we also have friends and family still in our lives.

In Japan, when you walk past a graveyard, you’d better tuck your thumbs into your fist, otherwise your parents may meet an unfortunate end years sooner than they were supposed to.

9. Break Your Mother’s Back

This one dates back all the way to the late 19th century. Hoo boy! Sadly, this one’s a bit racist. The original phrase was, “Don’t step on a crack or you’ll turn black.” Its origin was a sign of unfortunate times.

10. Do You Fear The Devil?

Be careful when you venture through Portugal. Some say walking backwards will directly show the devil your path, leading him right towards you.

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Do Superstitions Bring Us Together?

This list is just the tip of the iceberg. However we feel about superstitions, whether they’re silly wives’ tales, or grounded in reality and (in all seriousness) making a lot of sense, there’s no denying that every single person, on every single country in our massive world, is affected by superstitions. The same things we fear or love today, are possibly the same “life lessons” our ancestors lived by thousands of years ago.

If superstitions are one of the few remaining links we have to our ancestry, then what’s the harm in believing something, no matter how “outrageous” or head-turning it is, to be connected to our past? A belief is a belief, and no one can undermine someone’s deeply-held belief.

Now, I’m going to go to Russia, where it’s believed that if a bird drops a “gift” on you, your car, or your property, you’re on your path to riches.

Featured photo credit: Superstitions, via prezi.com

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why We Procrastinate After All?

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

Is Procrastination Bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How Bad Procrastination Can Be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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Procrastination, a Technical Failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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