I like reading, and aim to make at least part of my living through writing.

Initially a blog was a way to keep my family updated about university, although no one really read it. Then it became a quasi-journal, before becoming something I felt obliged to do rather than something I enjoyed doing. At this point I stopped, then started again, then stopped again.

Several times.

All the while though, the intention to write was on my mind. It’s a fun thing to do and I take a lot of value from reading, so wanting to reciprocate is an important part of it. Some of the blogs and books I’ve mentioned here (in the tabs on the home page) are a good example of what inspires me.

The most enjoyable period of blogging was mid-2012, where I posted pretty regularly and got some engagement going. A friend of mine blogged at the same time, and the competitive element was a good motivator.

Then, as usual, I stopped.

A reason for the stopping is not being confident of the tone of my writing. Is it too formal? Too clunky? Not detailed enough? Especially frustrating as I’m fully aware that this improves with time, and writing nothing is far less constructive than writing anything.

Basically, the appeal is:
– It helps me organise ideas / understand concepts
– The public platform makes possible to involve and help others
– It allows me to hone my writing skills, develop a voice, and build a repertoire

I wrote this 18 months ago and never posted it for some reason. Here it is:

tl;dr – ways you can change negativity into positivity in the short term and long term


Three things I believe:

- Karma exists, but is not governed by a supernatural force

- Positivity and negativity are self-perpetuating

- You can change negativity into positivity

I’ll attempt to articulate why I believe these points and how I believe you can achieve #3.

Karma exists, but is not governed by a supernatural force:

Karma is a complicated concept and is interpreted differently between various religious / spiritual / scientific philosophies. My understanding of the term is something along the lines of “what goes around comes around”, rather than a cumulative force that decides how you will be reincarnated. I think it can (and does) exist without supernatural intervention, also.

I consider karma to mean the tendency for people to do nice things for / to you and want to spend time with you if you do nice things for / to other people and are rewarding to spend time with. Phrased in these terms, it seems obvious – who would want to spend time with a jerk? Or who would avoid spending time with a really nice person who values your time?

It’s important to note I think karma is an example of correlation, not causation.

Positivity and negativity are self-perpetuating:

If you believe the aforementioned kind of karma exists, it demonstrates this point well; Positive outward actions lead to positive inward actions, negative lead to negative. If someone does a positive thing for you, you’re likely to perceive this positively, feel more positive because of it, and be more likely to do further positive things as a result.

A basic example:

If your friend buys you a beer, you’re more likely to buy him one later.


If someone throws a pint on you in a bar, your more likely to want to hit them.

I think this perpetuating positivity (I’m going to stop referring to negativity now – who wants to perpetuate that?) can occur in thought processes as well as actions, through mood (short term) and mindset (long term).

You’ll know from experience that everything seems better when you’re in a good mood. I don’t think this is chance – I think this is because you perceive and appraise everything in a more positive way, whether you know you’re doing it or not.

This is something I’ve experienced (on both levels), which is why I believe

You can change negativity into positivity:

There’s no reason to stay in a bad mood if you’re in one, or to maintain a less-than-ideal vision of the world because of habit. I’m by no means trivialising depression or grief or any other causes of negative emotions, but I think there are ways you can change your thinking to become more positive.

I mentioned positive mood as a short term outcome, and positive mindset as a long term one, so I’ll cover those separately. Below are methods I’ve used personally to good effect, so I hope they’re useful.


If you’re in a bad one,

- Try to figure out why

- Get somewhere calm. Take a few deep breaths and attempt to remove yourself from any factors enhancing the bad mood.

- Evaluate any reasons you highlighted in the wider context, not just within your bad mood (they’ll look a lot less bad)

- Focus on something POSITIVE


This is harder, but still possible. I’m still trying to figure out how to do this more,

- Meditate regularly. I did mindfulness meditation for fifteen minutes two or three time a week for a couple of months, and my average levels of anxiety and stress dropped noticeably (from the inside and from the outside) and have remained lower two years later.

- Try to see the good side of every situation. Think about why commuting by public transport is good (time to read, less environmental impact), why spilling your coffee isn’t bad (didn’t burn me, can get another point on my loyalty card sooner), and so on. This is hard, but seeing the positive side of things quickly becomes habitual.

- Do more things you enjoy and less things you don’t. Easier said than done? Not necessarily. Change your internet homepage to a site about your hobby instead of Google, wear the hat you like even if it doesn’t match, and so on.

- Take actions and decisions for your benefit. I saw the term ‘cognitive dissonance’ on the wikipedia page for karma earlier, and it captures this point nicely. If you do things for your benefit, the dissonance between what you want to do and what you do disappears, so it’s harder to feel bad about it. This doesn’t mean “be selfish” either, just don’t pander to other people’s desires. The actions and decisions you take will then feel more rewarding (although there is a greater sense of accountability attached to these kinds of decisions – I might expand this into its own post).

Those tips, combined with an active desire to think more positively and some reflection on your progress, are definitely workable. I hope they help!

To recap:

- What goes around is likely to come around

- People are more likely to be nice to you if you’re not a jerk

- Things seem better when you’re in a good mood, and worse when you’re in a bad mood

- A bad mood / negative outlook isn’t permanent

firstly, a couple of good askReddits:

What is the most underrated luxury item or service that is completely worth the extra expense?; discusses the merits of paying more for higher quality things that will last longer than their cheap counterparts, and gives some good examples such as:

  • good quality knives (quicker, safer, cooking becomes more enjoyable)
  • nice bedding / mattress (large portion of life spend sleeping; sleep well)
  • hiring a cleaner (time saved offsets expense)
  • tailored clothes, good quality shoes (comfortable, looks good)

what are some morals or code you have for yourself?. I love reading stuff like this, even if all the stuff in there isn’t necessarily compatible with what I think. I’ve been reading Ray Dalio’s Principles lately, for the same reason. I won’t pick out any specific ones from this list – take a look for yourself.

Next, another thread from Reddit (I’ve been nailing it this lunch time): Bill Gates’ AMA. Points of interest include:

  • how he spends time with his kids: “I like to tour interesting things with my kids like power plants, garbage dumps, the Large Hadron Collider, Antarctica, missile Silos (Arizona)
  • an Economist article about Nordic politics
  • A TED talk he gave about climate change

And finally, completely unrelated, the Journal of Bhutan Studies.

Hopefully there’s some interesting stuff there. Sorry for the lack of context / expounding.


Judging yourself against other peoples’ standards isn’t realistic because:
– They vary wildly
– They’re subjective, despite the tendency to see them as objective
– You can’t please everyone

And if you see this Robin, I thought your show was great :P

tl;dr – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen): Baz Luhrmann’s song and Yoda’s parody are good, but Mary Schmich’s original is the most inspiring

I heard this song when I was 11 or 12, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I heard the original:

While the music is nice, it’s the lyrics that stand out most. As these were taken directly from the original article, I’ll share (and recommend you read) that too:

Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young

What is it?

An article offering various advice that the author has picked up during her life. It is all offered with the disclaimer of having “no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience”, with the exception of the suggestion to wear sunscreen (“The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists”).

Why I like it:

It’s realistic. The advice doesn’t require specialist knowledge to understand, and though the format requires brevity, it alludes to some powerful techniques in changing, for the better, the way you think and live.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives.

I selected those three sections arbitrarily; the whole text is worth reading and reflecting on.

I just watched this. Finally started watching Richard Feynman videos as James recommended ages ago. I liked this passage:

I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing, than to have answers which might be wrong.

I have approximate answers, and possible beliefs, and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything. And many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here and what the question might mean. I might think about it a little bit and if I can’t figure it out, I’ll go to something else

But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose. Which is the way it really is as far as I can tell possibly.

It doesn’t frighten me.

I agree with those sentiments – lack of knowledge doesn’t need to equate to being afraid, and doesn’t justify adopting explanations that are unfounded.

This raises a lot of questions, though:
– how much understanding is required for a ‘right’ answer?
– depending on the answer above, can we ever truly ‘know’ anything? (very philosophical, apologies)
– how should we act and what should we accept about the inevitable things we won’t have time to arrive at a full explanation for?

Unfortunately lunch is over so I can’t answer them now, but quick thoughts for the latter – don’t adopt a stance and refuse to shift on it unless you’re 100% sure you’re right. Which is (if even possible) extremely rare :P

apartheid, ballistic, reticent, esthetic, sardonic, funicular, PBX, intaglio (John Frusciante announced his new album), sequester, bastard, zambo (in Cloud Atlas?), ratify, dogma, pragmatic, convoluted, contrived, subpoena, archetypal, agnomen, frottage (the art definition), crud, rube (misheard Rude Goldberg), intrigue, quandary, consumerism, interrogation, halcyon, filbert, capacious, zeal, oblivious, tenacious, gooch (as you do), cloaca, pecan (this inclusion always make me laugh), retard, basil, oregano, herb, spatula, nerd, polka, poker (investigating homophones), salsa (the dance), nadir, felicitations, legume, recompense, plebiscite, diagnosis, agnostic, gnostic, commune, vanguard, disdain, suffragette, suffrage, plutocracy, bagatelle (from Sophie’s World), ombudsman, aegis, Mesopotemia, repudiate, repudiation, jurisdiction, caliph, caliphate, lucidity, equity


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