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Archive for January 14th, 2014

Willpower: A science?

It’s the second week in January and, at about this time, that resolution that seemed so reasonable a week ago — go to the gym every other day, read a book a week, only drink alcohol on weekends — is starting to seem very … hard.

Kate Torgovnick May posted this Jan. 8, 2014

The science of willpower: Kelly McGonigal on why it’s so dang hard to stick to a resolution

As you are teetering on the edge of abandoning it all together, Kelly McGonigal, a Stanford University psychologist, is here to help.  She shared last year how you can make stress your friend and wants you to know that you’re not having a hard time sticking to a resolution because you are a terrible person.
Perhaps you’ve just formulated the wrong resolution.

KellyMcGonigal_Q&A

McGonigal has, for years, taught a course called “The Science of Willpower” through Stanford’s Continuing Studies program and, in 2011, she spun it into a book, The Willpower Instinct.

The TED Blog spoke to McGonigal this week about how willpower is often misunderstood, and what we each can do to improve it. (We also asked her about today’s talk — Why dieting doesn’t usually work.)

Below, an edited transcript of the conversation.

First question: why is willpower such a struggle?

It’s a great question. I define willpower as the ability to do what matters most, even when it’s difficult or when some part of you doesn’t want to. That begins to capture why it’s so difficult — because everything we think of as requiring willpower is usually a competition between two conflicting selves.

There’s a part of you who is looking to the long-term and thinking about certain goals, and then another part of you that has a completely different agenda and wants to maximize current pleasure and minimize current stress, pain and discomfort. (Can’t catch the difference here)

The things that require willpower pit those competing selves against each other. Willpower is the ability to align yourself with the brain system that is thinking about long-term goals — that is thinking about big values rather than short-term needs or desires. (This statement sound logical but not that rational to me)

The reason that so many things can trigger that kind of conflict is because that’s the essence of human nature.

Modern cognitive neuroscientists see this as the fundamental structure of the human brain — that there are competing systems that think about the world differently and that respond to challenges differently.

I think of it as: the immediate self versus the future self. We need both systems for survival.  But a lot of our modern challenges really tempt us to be in the mind-state of immediate gratification, or escaping immediate discomfort. It can be quite a challenge to access the part of you who is willing to take that big picture and tolerate temporary discomfort.

So, given this idea of two competing selves who want different things, how effective are New Year’s resolutions for tapping into the ability to think long-term?

I think it depends on how you go about making your New Year’s resolution.

Typically, when people are making a New Year’s resolution, they don’t start with the right questions, so they end up making a resolution that is ineffective. Most people start with the question: “What should I do?

It may not even be a conscious, implicit kind of thing, but they start from: “What do I criticize about myself that it’s time to change?” Or “what is it that I don’t really want to do that I know I should do?

It’s kind of a typical self-improvement perspective. “I don’t really like exercise, I guess I should do it.” Or “my closet is a mess, it’s time to get organized.” “I’ve never had a clean desk in my life, but I think that good people have clean desks, so this is the year I’m going to have one.”

People come up with resolutions that don’t reflect what matters most to them, and that makes them almost guaranteed to fail. Even if that behavior could be very valuable and helpful — like exercise — if you start from the point of view of thinking about what it is you don’t really want to do, it’s very hard to tap into willpower.

If there’s no really important “want” driving it, the brain system of self-control has nothing to hold on to.

The kind of New Year’s resolution that works is when you start really slowing down and asking yourself what you want for yourself and your life in the next year.

What is it that you want to offer the world? Who do you want to be, what do you want more of in your life? And then asking: “How might I get there? What would create that as a consequence?”

When you start from that point of view, then New Year’s resolutions can be incredibly effective. They begin to turn your attention to choice points in your everyday life where there really are opportunities to align your energy and attention in the direction that matters to you.

I think most people start from the choice points, without wondering whether this is even the right thing to be choosing. People get to the behaviors too soon, in my opinion.

Any tips for how to find those big things and then narrow them down to specific resolutions?

A very practical way is to ask: At the end of 2014 — on January 1st, 2015, looking backwards — what are you seriously going to be grateful that you did?

Is there a change you know that you’re going to be glad you made?

What would that feel like? That can tap into something that feels really authentic.

I was just doing a radio interview at one of the NPR stations in New York, and I was chatting with the studio producer. I asked her if she had any New Year’s resolutions, and she’s like, “Oh yeah — to stay fit.” She sounded so not enthusiastic. Then after a few seconds of silence, she said, “I’m kind of thinking about finding a way to play the piano again.

She was lighting up a little more. “It used to be so important to me, and I really miss it. It’s like my soul wants to play the piano again, and it would be giving it back to my soul.” And I’m like, “That’s your resolution! What is this getting fit stuff?”

By the way, you can spend the first week [of the year] looking around. One year my resolution was to focus on being a better mentor, and to look for ways in every professional relationship to do that.

You start looking around, and you see every conversation as an opportunity to choose that value and move toward that goal.

Just spend a week saying, “If what matters is improving my health, if what matters is spending more time with my family, if what matters is reconnecting to creativity, what choices do I make every day that either could get me closer to that?”

So on those things you feel like you should be doing — the going to the gym or the quitting smoking — is there a way to build your willpower towards those things?

One of the things I always encourage people to do is to not try to do things alone, and to start outsourcing their willpower a little bit.

If it’s exercising, you should be doing it with a family member, a friend, a co-worker. Or sign up for a series of classes after work. Because then, it’s like a bigger pool of possible willpower.

If you’re exhausted after work, and you normally would say, “Screw it, I’m going home,” if there’s somebody who is going to meet you in your office, and say, “Hey, aren’t we going for a walk now?,” it doesn’t matter if you feel like it in that moment.

There’s going to be a bigger pool of motivation that will support you through when you’re feeling most exhausted or least motivated.

Another thing I encourage people to do is — if there’s a behavior that they put off or don’t do because of anxiety or self-doubt or because it’s boring or uncomfortable — bribe yourself.

If you hate exercise but truly, truly want the consequences of exercising, you should give yourself permission to do whatever you don’t want to let yourself do — like read trashy gossip magazines, or download a whole series of a TV show that you can plop on in front of you on the treadmill.

As long as it doesn’t conflict with your goal, then you should go ahead and pair the thing you don’t want to do with a reward that you might otherwise not give yourself permission for. That can be very effective for beginning to prioritize and make time for things.

Also, give yourself permission to do small steps rather than think that there’s an ideal you need to meet. I wrote a review paper about two years ago showing that you can get pretty much the same health benefits from doing 5 to 15 minutes of exercise a day as from an hour.

There are a lot of things like that, where we think, “I won’t get my novel done unless I can put aside a whole weekend to write.” Well, you could create a novel in a paragraph a day. So I encourage people to think: what’s the smallest step that they could take that is consistent with their goal? And not necessarily worry about whether they believe it’s sufficient.

That is actually very freeing.

New Year’s resolutions can be fun! If you think of them like a science experiment, you can always learn something from a resolution.

A lot of times, people aren’t willing to learn the lesson — and sometimes the lesson is that you think you want to change this, but you don’t really want to, and sometimes you don’t need to. That sometimes we look for the things we think we can control.

It’s funny how this happens sometimes even when we go after the things that really are core to our identity. I did this New Year’s resolution makeover once with this woman who had made the same resolution year after year to become a better cook, because she thought that’s what good moms and good wives did. She was a terrible cook, and she didn’t want to learn how to cook.

That’s a mistake people make: They think they’re just going to fundamentally change who they are with a resolution.

“I’m going to become a morning person.” “I’m going to become a health nut.” “I’m going to become organized.”

The best resolutions are ones that strengthen something you already are, but you may not have been fully investing in.

 

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Young Ariel Sharon: Has he ever changed?
 ” Palestinian women are slaves to the Jews, because that’s how we want them to be”
War criminal Ariel Sharon, butcher of Beirut, is dead. He never faced justice for all the lives he ended and ruined. (Graphic by @[1069374286:2048:Doc Rocket] & me)
War criminal Ariel Sharon, butcher of Beirut, is dead. He never faced justice for all the lives he ended and ruined. (Graphic by Doc Rocket & me) Ben White‘s photo.
General Ouze Merham interviewed Sharon in 1956 and Ariel’s answers:
1. I massacred 750 Palestinians in Rafah in one swipe
2. I encouraged my soldiers to rape the Palestinian women
3. Palestinian women are slaves to the Jews
4. We dictate to others what we want
5. I swear that I am ready to kill any civilian Palestinian I meet
This is the French text:
Au grand jour's photo.

Nadia Massih published in the Lebanese The Daily Starthis Jan. 11, 2014

BEIRUT: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who died Saturday aged 85, was widely reviled in Lebanon for his role in the invasion of the country in 1982 as well as the massacres at the Beirut-based Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila.

Sharon was commonly dubbed the “Butcher of Beirut” for his association with some of the worst atrocities during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 Civil War.

The Daily Star
FILE - In this June 15, 1982 file picture provided by the Israeli Defense Ministry, Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, foreground, rides an armored personnel carrier on a tour of Israeli units advancing to the outskirts of Beirut, Lebanon, during the Israeli occupation. (AP Photo/Israeli Defense Ministry, File)
FILE – In this June 15, 1982 file picture provided by the Israeli Defense Ministry, Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, foreground, rides an armored personnel carrier on a tour of Israeli units advancing to the outskirts of Beirut, Lebanon, during the Israeli occupation. (AP Photo/Israeli Defense Ministry, File)

He was a part of the Israeli military since the country’s creation, as a member of the Jewish Haganah paramilitaries in the 1947-48 war that led to the “Nakba,” displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

He rose through the ranks with his belligerent military strategies, leading a brigade in the 1956 Suez War, and engineering the capture of the Sinai Peninsula 11 years later during the Six Day War.

However, it was in his political career that he will be most controversially remembered.

As Defense Minister he spearheaded the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, set up to root out Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization and form a peace accord with the Beirut government. The invasion morphed into a long occupation, and inadvertently helped to confirm Hezbollah’s status as the resistance party.

In 1982, Israel’s ally Bashir Gemayel was assassinated by Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party member Habib Chartouni. Gemayel’s Kataeb fighters looked to the Palestinians to avenge the death and launched an attack of the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, which were under Israeli control.

Over 3,000 Palestinians, including many women and children, were brutally killed, and as many taken away, never to reappear.

It was a massacre that Sharon was personally implicated in. A U.N. investigation the next year concluded that Israel was responsible for the attacks, and the Israeli-run Kahan Commission the same year determined that Sharon was personally accountable.

The Kahan report’s findings said that Sharon bore responsibility “for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge” and “not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed.”

The conclusions led many to dub Sharon the “Butcher of Beirut” and forced him to resign from the defense post but he refused to leave Cabinet, remaining minister without portfolio.

His bellicose reputation continued into his tenure as prime minister.

In 2000, he walked brazenly into the Temple Mount complex which houses the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa mosque, some of the holiest sites in Islam. The inflammatory move was widely attributed as sparking the Second Palestinian Intifada.

He was also associated with the widespread expansion of illegal outposts in the West Bank. As Housing Minister in the 1990s, he oversaw the biggest settlement drive in 20 years.

However, despite his uncompromising attitude, in 2004 he signed into law a plan to re-house all settlers in the Gaza Strip.

Sharon: ‘Occupation’ terrible for Israel, Palestinians

Kelly Wallace on CNN this May 27, 2003

JERUSALEM (CNN) — Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appears to be urging Israelis to accept giving up land for peace and advocating an end to what he called “occupation.”

“You cannot like the word, but what is happening is an occupation — to hold 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation. I believe that is a terrible thing for Israel and for the Palestinians,” he said Monday.

Those were stunning words from the longtime hawk and backer of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

“It can’t continue endlessly,” Sharon said. “Do you want to stay forever in Jenin, in Nablus, in Ramallah, in Bethlehem? I don’t think that’s right.”

On Sunday, the Israeli Cabinet voted to accept — with reservations — the U.S.-supported “road map” to peace, clearing the way for a series of steps that would lead to the creation of a Palestinian state within three years.

The first phase of the road map involves the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian zones reoccupied during the current uprising and a freeze on settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinian officials are required to crack down on militant groups that have carried out attacks against Israelis.

The Palestinian Authority accepted the plan last month after it was drafted by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, the so-called Mideast Quartet.

The Israeli Cabinet’s 12-7 vote, with four abstentions, marked the first time an Israeli government has formally accepted the principle of a Palestinian state.

But Sharon faces a skeptical public. In a newspaper poll Monday, 51 percent said implementing the road map would not lead to peace, while 43 percent said it would.

The stakes will be high for this week’s expected meeting between Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas will call for immediate implementation of the road map, including an end to Israeli military operations in Palestinian areas and a freeze on any settlement expansion, Palestinian advisers said.

Both steps are key to convincing radical Palestinian groups to stop attacks against Israel, the Palestinians said.

But Israeli sources said Sharon will reiterate his long-held position that the first step must be a clear and visible Palestinian crackdown on groups such as Hamas, which has claimed responsibility for four recent suicide bombings against Israelis.

Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization, has acknowledged attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers and has been labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

Daniel Ayalon, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, said Israel wants to see a “complete dismantling of the infrastructure of terror” by Abbas’ government.

“We cannot have negotiation by day and killing us at night,” Ayalon said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Sharon and Abbas failed to achieve any breakthroughs in their last meeting more than a week ago.

And a series of suicide bombings by Islamic militant groups befinning shortly before the meeting was seen as a “declaration of war” by Sharon’s government.

Now the two men face U.S. pressure to deliver, with a possible Mideast summit — with President Bush as host — perhaps hinging on what comes out of this week’s talks.

A three-way summit involving Sharon, Abbas and Bush could be called within 10 days.

A senior Bush administration official told CNN that the White House would not agree to a summit until it sees initial steps taken by both sides — a Palestinian crackdown on militants and the lifting of Israeli economic restrictions.

Nevertheless, a Bush administration advance team left Sunday morning for Egypt to begin preparations for the possible summit, an administration official told CNN. The team is also set to go to Jordan, which Bush might visit early next month.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2014/Jan-11/243804-sharon-most-reviled-man-in-lebanon.ashx#ixzz2qGSQGzht


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