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Silence the Drama Queen to Improve your Karma

Silence the Drama Queen to Improve your Karma

The problem with our generation is that we all just want to be onions, nobody wants to be a potato. No, I have not lost my mind (any more than the usual that is), let me explain.

We all just want to be full of complicated layers that take great effort to unpeel and make others overwhelmed and teary eyed as each layer unfolds. There is no charm left in the childlike simplicity of a potato that just innocently sits there with a look that says ‘I’m the most predictable, harmless thing in the world, I have nothing up my sleeve, you can just eat me’. That’s it, no drama, no complications.

Our older generations had quite a few proud potatoes. Life went on at its regular pace without any dramatic twists and turns. Not so much anymore, we new age onions thrive on drama.

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We are not content with being single or committed, we want to be ‘Its complicated’. We may live comfortable cheery lives but we want to say ‘my life is messed up’. The only thought in our heads may be the toppings we want on our pizza tonight, but we want people to believe that we are soulful brooding creatures, who silently battle a hundred storms a day.

We say we don’t, but secretly, we love Drama

Don’t lie, my friend, you know we do! We like to create our own tragedy, drown in self-pity over that tragedy, be the hero who ‘survives’ the tragedy and finally get a standing ovation from the audience for our great achievement (in most cases it’s just a sitting sigh from our friends who know us too well).

A boss’s reprimand for not meeting a deadline turns us into a Facebook life coach with a post that reads “I have already been through hell, so give it your best shot, I will still win, I will survive”. One could have won already had one finished that report. One could get a hundred likes for this post, but one still has to finish that report.

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Break ups transform us into the great Antony mourning his eternal lost love for Cleopatra. It lasted six months, you fought six hundred times. There was no war that stopped your everlasting union, it was the natural thing to happen between two ill-suited adults. No layers to unpeel, it’s a potato scenario.

I know it sounds harsh, I know sometimes our problems overwhelm us. I’m not trying to trivialize life and its issues. Of course, sometimes life does hand us battles, but, most of the time its just little hitches and hiccups. In our heads, we turn these into big wars that need to be fought, big obstacles that need to be overcome. What if, for once, we quit magnifying our problems and let the smaller issues remain small?

What if we kill the drama and just get on with ‘regular usual life’?

It’s probably a bit boring, isn’t it? If we don’t have the heart-wrenching tragedies and overwhelming grand triumphs, we just won’t get that high. Life is the one movie where we get to be the hero and the drama keeps the movie interesting. The problem is that it also kills mental peace. In our attempt to make life a blockbuster, we end up busting our own overwrought minds.

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We obsess over everything – analyze, rationalize and correlate till a theatrical production has been created. Our poor production house of a head which is already half dead from creating the ‘crisis’ then has to go into producing another grand blockbuster around ‘surviving the crisis’. By the time we are tweeting our great survival story, our poor brain is attending its own funeral.

What if for once we avoided the mental suicide? What if something went wrong but we told the drama queen inside us to just take a rest. No exaggeration on what has happened, no assumptions on the reasons why it has happened, no blanket judgment on who is responsible for it, no pleas to the Almighty on why the Universe is singling us out to inflict pain. The universe doesn’t know, the universe doesn’t care, the universe has its own problems to deal with (Unless we want to handle those planet-swallowing black holes while the universe thinks about our break up).

So if a friend has stopped talking to us completely, why don’t we just call and ask what’s wrong instead of lamenting to all the common friends and analyzing it till we reach the conclusion that this happened because we are the most misunderstood person on Earth. (Emotional tweet to follow – Never explain yourself to people who are committed to misunderstanding you. #Iwillsurvive). For all we know, the friend is probably peeved because we don’t have time to call, but have the time to post at least 10 soul searching survival quotes a day.

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Our minds would be a lot more free and peaceful if we didn’t turn everything into a melting saga. So this is my suggestion, let us fight the battles we really need to fight. At other times, let’s tell the drama queen to shut up and just enjoy being a simple, straightforward potato!

Featured photo credit: pixhome.blogspot.com via pixhome.blogspot.in

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

How to Self-Taught Effectively

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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