Musings

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Musings – Part 11

FEAR.  The greatest cause of our anxiety is fear. But fear and anxiety are not the same thing. Anxiety is spurred by uncertainty, by the assumptions and predictions we make about the future in which we have little confidence. If we could forecast events with certitude, we would be much less anxious. We would know […]

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Musings – Part 10

Unprecedented.  The coronavirus pandemic is often described as an unprecedented event. The word means “never done or known before.” Some aspects of COVID-19, like its global scale, likely are. Others are not. Although many choose to ignore the lessons of history, it offers much needed perspectives. As George Santana said 115 years ago, those who […]

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Musings – Part 9

A few of the things I’m thinking about during this period of isolation: Forgiveness.  We all do things we wish we could take back, and likely would, if only we had the chance. So why should we hold others accountable for being imperfect and fallible? When we no longer see their behaviour towards us as […]

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Musings – Part 8

Uncertainty.  These are uncertain times. Regardless of the dire circumstances we face with this pandemic, rarely does a day in our lives pass without some degree of uncertainty. Our current predicament simply affirms that we can expect more of it, not less. Most people respond to extreme uncertainties with confusion, frustration, anxiety or even panic. Uncertainty […]

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Musings – Part 7

Self-worth.  As we age, we shed the innocence of childhood naivete and acquire maturity (or what I prefer to call perspective). We learn that what we think of ourselves is more important than what others think of us. Self-worth has little to do with, therefore does not require, the approval of others. Their expectations should […]

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Musings – Part 6

Self-knowledge.  Socrates distilled the entire realm of philosophy to a single edict: “Know thyself.” Yet can we? Our brain has two minds – the conscious one that reasons and a subconscious one fueled by emotions. This is why we constantly struggle to figure out who we really are. Since there is no easy route to […]

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Musings – Part 5

Bias.  We are hard-wired with biases at birth; it’s one way the brain sustains itself. Yet we generally believe we are less biased than others. Psychologists call this a blind spot because we cannot see what we don’t already know. Just as Goethe said we cannot hear what we don’t understand. I call it the […]

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Musings – Part 4

Expertise vs. Ignorance.  The overwhelming complexity of modernity, the unpredictability of events and the onslaught of misinformation make it increasingly harder to navigate our lives. This is why we need the expertise of others. But how do we know whose answers we can trust? In The Death of Expertise, Tom Nichols notes that “the public space […]

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Musings – Part 3

Believing we’re right vs. being right.  Sensing we’re right is an addiction of confidence that correlates with our inborn need for certainty. It helps us give meaning to our lives. But this self-induced assurance is no guarantee of being right. According to Daniel Kahneman, who studied when we should trust our gut and when we […]

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Musings – Part 2

Materialism vs. idealism.  Being materialistic means you think money, status and image are more important than family, helping others or just having fun. It’s being excessively concerned with creature comforts and possessions rather than novel ideas, moral possibilities and intellectual paradoxes. In a meta-analysis of hundreds of studies, Dr. Tim Kasser concludes that materialism is associated […]

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