Jul 12

It Has Been a Long Time

I started this blog 3 years ago. I took a break. It ended up lasting a full year.

I have missed writing about rationality and mindfulness. I have missed thinking about them both too.

I am sure that I have used both skills throughout the past year. But since I have not shone the light on either one by writing about them, I feel as if I have not. Or at least, I have not used them to their (or my) full potential.

Coming back to Rational Focus has brought back good memories. Good feelings.

And I am coming back to it at one of the busiest times in my life.

Perhaps, that is the best time to come back. When everything around me is moving so quickly, maybe Rational Focus can be the place where I can move slowly.

Hopefully, it can be the place where you can move slowly too.

Jul 11

Rational Focus (Year Two)

This Wednesday, July 13 2011, will be the two year anniversary of the start of this blog.

I have kept the tradition of posting every Monday for the past two years. I attempted to change the schedule last year, but I failed. I could not bring myself to break the chain.

I am going to attempt to break it this year.

In “Ending Meditation“, I said that forcing myself to meditate everyday made the practice boring. I did not mention another problem that I had with keeping to a schedule.

It obfuscated the purpose.

Not only was I meditating because I had the desire to learn more about my thoughts, I was meditating because I did not want to break the chain.

This is the same problem that I am having with posting every Monday.

Am I posting because I have something to say, or am I posting to just be consistent?

Breaking the chain will be a good thing. It will put my interest in rationality and mindfulness to the test.

For the past two years, I have felt like rationality and mindfulness have really spoken to me. Has this been just because I have been writing about them? Or am I writing about them because they speak to me.

We shall see.

Dec 10

Year End Review #2

This is post number 52 of this year.

Which is not surprising because this is the last week of the year, and I have been posting every Monday of every week since this blog’s inception (even when I have tried not to).

The year started off with some strong mindfulness posts. After a few months, I posted about my lack of mindfulness while in the car and while the tv is on. But I found that I was not always lacking mindfulness. I posted about a spot I sat at during lunch that helped me bring my mind back to my senses. I typically focus on what I need to do and not what I have accomplished. Stepping Out of the Patterns was a rare post where I recognized my accomplishments.

Then I posted about how mindfulness can bring about action. This was a part of a series of posts concerning action. I wrote about rationality found in installing a gate. And how taking part in reality is how you truly understand reality. I used that aphorism while writing this post.

I wrote a few posts about how I attempted to find rationality in everyday life.

Throughout the year, I tried to post about specific rationality concepts that I could look for within everyday life. Logical fallacies. Occam’s razor. Confirmation bias. There was a nice visual guide to cognitive biases that I linked to here. I also attempted to explain the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning. I had to throw in the Monty Hall problem showing how we just don’t get statistics right off the bat. And one fallacy that I deal with all the time is Moving the Goalposts.

I questioned why practicing mindfulness was not common in Western society: here, here and here. I also posted about a possible way that mindfulness could become accepted within Western society. Along with that technology, I mentioned a technique that I used to help focus on my senses.

Mindfulness is a brick wall that stops a wandering mind and promotes a non-judgmental, objective point of view. And I wanted to understand how I practice mindfulness better. So, I started quantifying and analyzing it.

Speaking of analysis, I posted quite a lot about analyzing my life and how I think. Backed by other great thinkers calling for the analysis and understanding of your own and others thoughts, I took the mindfulness analysis and recognized some controlling thoughts.

I dove deeper into the types of thoughts that controlled my attention and found some clarity breakers. There were a few techniques that I attempted to use to break down controlling thoughts. And through these practices I found that quite often: my anticipations of things were incorrect and that there really is no silver bullet.

I have been writing this blog for over a year now.  I removed distractions. I am tracking my efficiency. And I am finding some interesting numbers.

I am moving forward.

Aug 10

Winging It

I really do not know what I am going to write about for this blog post. I feel like the quality of the post is going to suffer because of it.

Typically, I put a good amount of thought into what I am going to write, the weekend before I post. Almost always, the idea for the post relates to some idea or experience I had the week before. After I give it some thought, the idea behind the post finalizes and I feel comfortable writing the post on Monday.

But this week, I have nothing. So, I just sat down and told myself to start writing. And there are two ways I can intrepret what I am doing.

I could view it as not allowing thought to get in the way of action. I am being mindful while writing. I am going with the flow of the moment. The post will accurately reflect my thoughts. And this post will be better than all of my other posts.

Or I am just winging it. My lack of planning will result in a low quality post. And I won’t get any point across regardless of the amount of effort I put into the actual writing of the post.

Like most things, it is not that extreme and it is not an either/or situation.

I think that there needs to be a little planning beforehand. But I also think that once you sit down to write, you just need to go with the flow.

So, how does this post measure up to my other ones? It brings up interesting points but does not make not make a definitive point. But not all posts need to do that.

Jul 10

The Creation Habit

Sometimes, I wonder if I am making progress in controlling my behavior in everyday life.

There are moments when I take a step back and think that I have about the same amount of discipline as I did a year ago. There are other times when I think that I have gotten a lot better at controlling my behavior and the sky is the limit. Those initial thoughts depend on what mood I am in at the time. I can go either way.

But when I think that I have not made progress, I remind myself of This blog immediately disproves the thought of me stagnating.

This is one of the great benefits of creating something. There is no denying its existence. Which, of course, could be a good or bad thing.

In this case, it is a good thing. I can look back at this blog and see disciplined action.

But, it was not just the content that kept me coming back.

Writing this blog has become a habit. I was planning on not writing a post this Monday. But I could not stop myself from doing it.

It is somewhat of a paradox.

Being disciplined in writing this blog has created a situation where I lack the discipline to stop consistently writing in this blog.

Jul 10

Rational Focus (Year One)

I started this blog one year ago, tomorrow. I have written an entry every Monday since the beginning.

I am proud of the fact that I was able to do something consistently for a year. There were many times that things came up in my life when I thought that I would not be able to write an entry.

But I was able to get one in on time. And that required discipline to choose to not do things when this was a higher priority.

Most importantly, my interest in the blog did not wane throughout the year. As a matter of fact, the weekly entry helped to remind me and reinforce my interest in rationality, quantification and mindfulness.

It is interesting how the topics of my posts have turned out. A year ago, I thought this blog was going to be more about rationality than anything else. But as it has turned out, I have focused on mindfulness and quantification equally as much as rationality.

I am going to use this one year anniversary as an opportunity to change a few things on the site.

I am going to change the look and feel sometime soon. While I like the clean and simple look, I would prefer more content on the main page without it being overwhelming.

I am going to find a different schedule for posting. Mondays turn out to be the busiest day of the week for me, even without doing the blog post. I may post multiple times a week or maybe once every couple of weeks. It all depends on what will allow for the best quality of posts.

Finally, I am going to attempt to organize my thoughts on the topics in this blog into some kind of actionable system or formula. You can see the beginnings of it in the past few posts.

I believe I am on a path that will lead me to a convergence of rationality, mindfulness and quantification. This blog will serve as the log that captures this convergence.

Dec 09

Year End Review

I have posted 24 times these past 5 and a half months. The content can be summarized by reviewing the categories that I have created for the posts. Analysis, Media, Meta, Mindfulness and Rationality. The majority of the posts have been focused on rational thinking in everyday life (rationality) and how to analyze my life to gain a better understanding of myself (analysis). I have attempted to explore the concept of mindfulness (mindfulness) and attempted to figure out where the connections between rational thought and mindfulness occur (meta). I have also mentioned stories that have inspired me (media).
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Sep 09

Reconcilable Differences

The subject of my past few posts has been about quantitative analysis of thoughts.  This seems to be in direct contrast with the idea of mindfulness.  One concept consists of quantifying, categorizing, time stamping, and many other ways to analyze what is going through your mind.  The other concept consists of recognizing thoughts and nothing else.  That’s all there is to it.

Mindfulness is not missing the instructions on what to do with the thoughts that you have.  Meditation has been developed and refined for over thousands of years.  Practitioners are aware of the thoughts that pass through their mind and they specifically do nothing with them.  That is the fundamental basis of meditation.  How can quantitative analysis, or reasoning and rational thought, for that matter, be reconciled with mindfulness?
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Jul 09

Rational Focus

Thoughts can be debilitating.