Category Archives: Theory

Hurricane Sandy – Your Role?

At this very moment Hurricane Sandy had made her landfall in East US.

Affected or not, it happens in our common-shared world.

Here’s some advice:

1. If you are directly affected

Value yourself and human souls first. Keep close to announcement by officials. Evacuate if you’re asked to. Bring only the important things. Keep stuff for survival in safe area (basement etc) in case you’re trapped.

On sudden danger and you’re unprepared, trust your guts and have faith.

2. If you’re not affected

Get updates of the events. Hope that souls affected will survive. Look for ways on how you can help them on time or aftermath based on you capabilities.

Let’s hope for the best in surviving mother nature!

Learn Unlearn Relearn – The Art of Relearning

Relearning can be defined as acquiring a set of knowledge or skills that we possessed in previous time of our life.

As for myself, I used to practice lots of guitar circa 2005-2007, but circa 2008-2010 my skills had declined tremendously due to lack (extremely lacking) of practice. I can’t pull off some riffs that I used to pull, but I still can play some other riffs naturally.

At this point, I realized that I store those riffs that I can pull mostly in subconscious or semi-subconscious memory. I distinguish those riffs as the riffs that I really like and the riffs that I write myself.

For the riffs that I can’t pull, they mostly fall into some ‘quick fix’ for band practices and some ‘quick fix’ to impress girls. I did take them lightly just for the moment.

Currently, if I want to relive those riffs, it is easier to relearn riffs that I stored in subconscious/semi-subconscious memory but more efforts need to be put into those ‘quick fix’.

However, in traumatic settings (as the video below), it takes more than ‘relearning method’ presented above to relearn a set of previous skills.

Although for most people, walking can be easy and can be done almost unconsciously, traumatic condition such as spinal-cord injury can really prevent someone from walking.

To relearn walking, it takes more than the mind and patterns, it takes spirit and courage.

These come from the inward entity of a human being, the heart (or the soul).

As shouted by Dave Grohl.

Learn Unlearn Relearn – The Art of Unlearning

The idea of too much emphasis on education that makes someone becoming an egocentric and rigid monster had been popularized by Pink Floyd in Another Brick in the Wall.

Through the years we should know that the real problems is not really about what had been thought, but rather how receiver received their lessons.

The Japanese master Nan-in gave audience to a professor of philosophy.

Serving tea, Nan-in filled his visitor’s cup, and kept pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he could restrain himself no longer: “Stop! The cup is over full, no more will go in.”

Nan-in said: “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”

Think learning as your work and unlearning as your vacation.

As important as learning, knowing when to ditch something that you know is also important, as pointed by Jim Copanico in the following talk.

In this video, Jim Copacino talks about The Art of Unlearning.

Jim claims that the best creative ideas come from the willingness of people to learn new stuff and also the willingness to unlearn.

That comes from the essence of fresh, un-schooled and unfeathered mind.

Success comes from toggling back and forth between expertise and purposeful naivety.

Jim shows some ads revolving unlearning for you to unlearn some stuff.

Enjoy the video.

Learn Unlearn Relearn

“The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”  ~Alvin Toffler

Jack is an aspiring architect who had just graduated from college. The fresh-young-blooded lad is inexperience. He joins an architecture firm with vision to earn and learn.

“You learn something everyday if you pay attention.” ~Ray LeBlond

However, the company he joins using a different approach of work, really different from what he had been taught in school. He has to unlearn what he knows before.

“Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.” ~Mark Twain

One day the company secures a project which pretty much works with what Jack had learnt in school. Guess who is the project leader?

“Each day learn something new, and just as important, relearn something old.” ~Robert Brault

Eddie Obeng: Smart failure for a fast changing world


Theory of FLOW

This is a theory presented by psychologist Mihaly Csikzentmihaly in this book.

The Theory of Flow is best presented in graph relating the challenge of an activity to the skill you have/cultivate.

To present this theory, I am going to start with the graph below. Challenge on y-axis and skill on x-axis.

Point a in image below represent anyone who is just starting a new activity. Put it as an example, badminton. Say you have never played badminton before, and you go out there playing with your buddy who is similar as you, never had played before. You guys practically have zero skills and the challenge is zero. No competition whatsoever.

You start at a.

Say 20 years later you guys have both played the Olympics and you guys have the highest skills possible and facing the highest challenges, you got to point b.

Now there are these areas to the left (above) and the right (below) of a and b line.

You are in the area above the line if you don’t have a lot of skills but you’re facing big challenges. As an example, the second time you’re playing badminton suddenly your opponent is Lee Chong Wei (the number 1 player today according to BMF World Ranking), you’re in the zone which is obviously not good. Csikzentmihaly address this area as ANXIETY.

In simple words, ANXIETY is anything above the linear line that put you in a high state of challenge while your skill is low.

If you’re in the area below, you have the skills but you got not much challenge. Imagine you are Lee Choong Wei playing with a newbie, who only had only played badminton for a week. Csikzentmihaly address this area as BOREDOM.

Csikzentmihaly suggest that these two areas aren’t the optimal experiences in any aspects of life, be it at work, sports, leisure or relationships, you don’t want to stay in these regions.

You should stay on the a-b line.

The best thing that Csikzentmihaly propose is that you start the activity at point a, two players. The two play each other for a week (point c), time by time both gets better at the same time gets higher, keep going (point d), keep going (point e), until a year both are pretty good and about the same skills (point f).


This is a humongous dynamic momentum that pushes both towards betterment of the activity.

Csikzentmihaly address this as Flow Channel and this is one of the good way you should be approaching your activities in life.

The Zorro Circle

According to legend, in the southwestern United States, there lived a masked hero roamed around fighting for the unfortunate and the helpless.

His name is Zorro.

Zorro is a hero whose masters in swordsmanship, slashing 10 villains on one go, swing grandly on the fancy chandelier in the rich’s party, stealing beautiful women’s hearts and don’t let me exaggerate more.

He has been portrayed in many literature, dramas and movies, with the most well-known played by Antonio Banderas.

Despite the awesomeness of Zorro had been glorified through Hollywood, lesser attention had been given to the way Zorro becomes the awesome Zorro, previously just a lad named Alejandro.

In the beginning of The Mask of Zorro, Alejandro had been portrayed as a young visionary man who wants to restore justice in the world by assailing villains.

Being young, with amateur skills and immature, he wants to do it immediately and spectacularly, with little patience.

Spirited, he took the challenge, but the tougher it gets, the farther he falls.

Over and over, he feels out of control and utterly powerless, resulting as a drunkard in despair.

Don Diego

Until he met Don Diego, an elder sword master, who took Alejandro into his hidden cave, the course of destiny changed.

In the cave, Don Diego starts Alejandro’s training by drawing a circle in the dirt.

“This circle will be your world. Your whole life. Until I tell you otherwise, there is nothing outside of it,” says Don Diego.

When Alejandro had mastered this small circle, time by time Don Diego allows him to expand the circle little by little until he captured the skills of the glorified awesomely Zorro that we know.

Zorro’s successes wouldn’t be possible if he had not first learned to master that small circle.

Before that moment, Alejandro had no command over his emotions, no sense of his own skill, no real faith in his ability to accomplish goals, and worst of all, no feeling of control over his own fate.

Only after he masters that first circle does he starts to become Zorro, the legend.


The Jerk and The Thinker

The Jerk

Evolutionary speaking, the oldest part of the brain responsible for our jerk-like emotional system (the Jerk), based in the limbic (emotional) region, where the amygdala reigns supreme.

This jerk-like emotional system was crucial for our survival thousands of years ago where we have no time to think logically while being attacked by a vicious hungry tiger, we just simply jump into action.

When this happens, the amygdala sounded the alarm in our brain.

The reaction results in filling our body with adrenaline and stress hormones which sparked an immediate reflex.

This reflex then commands our action, to fight or to flight?

The Limbic Brain

The Thinker

Fortunately, in the current modern world, the dangers of the wilderness were no longer a big issue.

Life’s problems usually were more complicated and most of the time responding to the Jerk system do more harm than good, especially in decision making.

Throughout history, due to harm caused by the Jerk, over evolution we have also developed a rational system in the brain (the Thinker).

The system resides mostly in the prefrontal cortex.

How the Thinker works is simple; think, then react.

Prefrontal Cortex

Emotional Hijacking

Most challenges we’re facing today require us to be the Thinker but when things were getting out of control, the Jerk tends to take over.

This event happens unconsciously and it is BIOLOGICAL.

Cortisol is the toxic chemical associated with stress. When we’re under pressure, it will start to build.

When cortisol has reached the critical point, even the smallest conflict can trigger the amygdala response, then the process (as demonstrated in The Jerk) occur.

The Jerk overpowers the Thinker‘s defenses, respond with ‘fight or flight’ instead of ‘think, then react’.

Scientists have termed the situation as ’emotional hijacking’.

Dueling for Supremacy

Psychologist cum neuroscientist, Richard Davidson had conducted a study to find out why some people were resilient while others were easily debilitated in stressful conditions.

Davidson place both groups in situations like solving difficult math problems in a short amount of time and simultaneously tracked their brain function using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

Referring to the fMRI, it is shown that the rational and reflexive part dueling for supremacy.

Comparing the patterns, the prefrontal cortex won over the limbic system in resilient individuals and vice-versa.

This means that a person with resilient character is more of the Thinker rather than the Jerk.

Why Resilience is Important in Our Time?

Each second, 5 babies are born into this world, two new blogs created, 2.8 million emails sent, 34 trees are cut down in the rainforest and around 2 people will die.

In current fast-paced modern environment, the challenges we’re facing are huge.

Adversities like broken economic system, job loses, resource scarcity, rising prices… the levels of anxiety are growing too.

Sometimes, gradual changes come in putting forward things in a very predictable way. Sometimes, like now, changes can be sudden and disoriented.

The ‘waves’ of change ahead.

“How do I cope?”

“How do I develop my resilience to thrive in these difficult times?”

“The waves are getting bigger, but what should I do?”

“How can I be the catalyst for change?

These questions are common questions one might ask on a personal level, but how can adapting a resilient character helping us in resolving these queries? How can we be psychologically prepared?

Let’s look back at the definition of psychological resilience.

Scientist/psychologist thinks that resilience has at least three different properties.

For example, resilient system could be able to withstand a shock, without losing its basic function.

Another property of resilience is the system might be able to adapt to changing circumstances.

And the third property, resilient system is able to transform to a different way of life when the current is no longer feasible.

Resilience is a character that can’t be passed through genes, it is a character than can be learned.

That’s the great news!

The Resiliency of David Beckham

Merriam-Webster defined resilience as; 1. the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress 2. an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

Material physics defined resilience as the ability of a material to absorb energy when it is deformed elastically, and release that energy upon unloading.

The area under the linear portion of a stress-strain curve is the resilience of the material.

In psychology, resilience can be defined as an individual’s ability to cope with stress and adversity. This coping may result in the individual “bouncing back” to a previous state of normal functioning, or simply not showing negative effects. A third, more controversial form of resilience is sometimes referred to as ‘post-traumatic growth‘ or ‘steerling effects‘ where in the experience adversity leads to better functioning (much like an inoculation gives one the capacity to cope well with future exposure to disease). Resilience is most commonly understood as a process, and not a trait of an individual.

As story portrays an example better than fancy compositions of words (per above), lets look at a story, The Resilience of David Beckham.

During FIFA World Cup 1998, England was sent off in the second round by Argentina, losing on penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw. David Beckham received a red card in the game, makes him the center of the blame, the villain, by England’s supporter. It was reported that an effigy of him was hung outside of a London pub, the Daily Mirror printing a dartboard with his picture at the center of the bullseye and he’s receiving death threats after the World Cup.

The abuse that Beckham was receiving from English supporters peaked during England’s 3-2 defeat by Portugal in Euro 2000, a match where Beckham set up two goals, when a group of England supporters taunted him throughout the match. Beckham responded by raising his middle finger and, while the gesture attracted some criticism, many of the newspapers that had previously encouraged his vilification asked their readers to stop abusing him.

For a person, having the whole nation against you can be something scary, leading to stress that may break the soul into pieces, ones may doom towards depression, falling out. Although you’re a professional footballer who receive big paycheck, social stress can’t be cured by only money.

However, by 2000, Beckham was promoted to team captain, helping England to qualify the 2002 World Cup finals, including an impressive 5-1 victory over Germany. The final step in Beckham’s conversion from villain to hero happened in England’s 2-2 draw against Greece. England needed to win or draw the match in order to qualify for the World Cup, but were losing 2-1 with little time remaining. During the whole game Beckham fall many times, running in and out, trying to ensure England’s victory. Approaching the final whistle, an opportunity comes, where England were awarded a free-kick and Beckham ensured England’s qualification with a curling strike.

That goal shook the country. That feeling was better than an orgasm. He has managed to turn the page and be a national hero. That is the third controversial form of resilience (as stated above), experience adversity leads to better functioning.

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