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Selfdev

Good and evil in the history of the soul

In the archaic, pre-civilization man, the separation of good and evil didn’t yet happen. In such a soul, sin is impossible, there is only a journey to the other world, which can be successful or unfavorable. It is represented as a trip to a foreign country, whose inhabitants do not really favor the newcomers, but if you show ingenuity, you can return рome with fabulous treasures. There are no angels and demons in this other world, only spirits, benevolent or otherwise. This world is negative in regard to the ordinary world—it isn’t evil, but compensating. Therefore, success in the other world is often related to problems in everyday life, and vice versa—that’s why losers in everyday life (like Ivan the Fool) exit the other world enriched.

In the ancient civilized man, good and evil are divided and the victory of Good over Evil already happened. Chthonic gods are expelled from Olympus, however bright Olympians may be supportive or hostile depending on the observance of taboos, because good and evil do not yet dwell in the soul—they are still externalized the same way as in the archaic man. One’s fate also depends on his prowess, skill, trained spirit (the ancient understanding of virtue and its opposite, vice). Evil, although defeated in principle, is an integral part of the universe, is inseparable from good and has its recognized rights.

In the man belonging to the epoch of the triumph of Christianity, good and evil are maximally divided and personified. And although good is endowed with unconditional priority, evil has remarkable strength and constantly tempts humans, even if these temptations can lead to greater good. Good and evil permeate the polarized universe and are constantly present both in the soul and in the outer world.

In the post-Christian, Baroque-to Enlightenment-to-Progress man, who belongs to the era of the triumph of science and reason, the defeated evil gradually turns into an invisible state, is repressed and internalized. On the surface, in the mind, only good in its various manifestations remains. Evil breaks out spontaneously, in accidents, illnesses, disasters, revolutions, and wars, being accidental, unexplained, not recognized.

And finally, the modern version, the man socialized, that is, repressed by society. Here, not only evil, but also good disappears as their understanding becomes relative, and their separation purely mechanical. Evil is repressed as much as possible, while good becomes imperceptible, like everything familiar, and all this against the background of an increasingly explicable and explanatory material reality, which becomes the only legitimate nature of things. The main thing that occupies the mind of the modern man is the reward or punishment expected for performing a certain social role. Such a man is always ready to sacrifice himself, but the reasons are that, first, he is trained to altruistically neglect his needs for the sake of a social role, and second, he does not value himself, because he is lost in the ubiquity of good.

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Selfdev

Nice Guy Syndrome: Part 2

Many nice guys imitate someone from their surroundings — either some idols, or an internalized image of the right guy. In their life they take a role of a good-hearted guy, pretty boy, idol, buddha, which is however built on the wishes of their surroundings and has nothing to do with their true selves, with who they really are. So a big gap opens up between the role they play, the life that unfolds around that role, and their true self hidden somewhere in a deep forest they have no access to, even if they sometimes hear its voices and sounds.

Roles belong to life, they have their power and wisdom, but, as probably all teachings of wisdom and psychological schools say, these roles need to be built on a firm, authentic inner structure of a true self which is however more than often collectively suppressed, ignored and shadowed by demand, masquerade, supermarket.

Social roles would have to be rather marginal in the ideal case, but for a nice guy they are dominant. His true self is buried somewhere, it isn’t present or is very limited. For a nice guy, these roles are strongly related to fulfilling the needs of others. The nice guy himself has the only need in performing these roles: to be seen, heard, and accepted as a good one, a right one.

The real fact is that in the end, a nice guy isn’t nice at all, because, while somewhere in the deep he wants to return back home to his true self, true feelings, emotions, thoughts, he doesn’t because it would mean that he would occasionally conflict with the wishes of the surroundings to make everyone adapt, everyone in agreement, everyone coexisting, and everyone safe.

On the other hand, I found out that if you tell this to a nice guy, he starts disagreeing, compulsively criticising, forcibly opposing authority for every price, swinging in doing so from the utter conformity to the utter unconformity. (Seeking the golden middle way requires everyday, every moment’s self-reflection instead of assuming another mask and role.)

So another nice guy’s strategy might be that he finds out right to be critical, violent, negative, bitter, defamatory, intriguing, manipulative (that’s always the case), and he doesn’t realize he’s again serving the demand of his subconscious authority and so he’s back in a role based on demand.

A nice guy naively fulfils whatever his surroundings want in order to please and make it happy, and this drive is completely unconscious. Finally, he ends up with burnout.

To be continued.

This is second part of my translation of a text about the nice guy syndrome written by Zdenek Weber, a Czech mentor, speaker, and entrepreneur.

Nice Guy Syndrome: Part 1

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Selfdev

Nice Guy Syndrome: Part 1

The nice guy syndrome is a relatively new psychological condition many modern men struggle with. First described by Dr. Robert Glover, it has soon got a worldwide recognition as a very common phenomenon of men’s psychology. In this new series of posts, I will translate a very clear and concise text about the basics of the nice guy syndrome written by Zdenek Weber, a Czech mentor, speaker, and entrepreneur, the founder of Czech Men’s Circle movement. I believe that the ideas and insights contained in this text could be very helpful to many of my readers. As the text is quite long, I will break it down into a few chunks.

Part 1

Working with the nice guy syndrome is mainly about incorporating into your life self-reflection of being truthful about your needs and the needs of others. This skill requires a long-term practice.

Start with reflecting when you act on the basis of a subconsciously perceived social demand, out of a habit to be socially available, help and make others happy.

Making others happy and being at their disposal is a completely natural behavior, but if you are available at 99% and your needs are met only at 1%, then something is out of balance, and that’s a nice guy’s reality.

His task is to build up his own individuality, his own ways of life and self-realization, and if nobody ever helped him and he was instead motivated to fulfill the wishes and needs of others, then he starts from zero in 30 or 45 years, and it just takes time, because his whole life is riddled with all possible strategies of getting satisfaction through being liked and praised for that the others have enough and are happy, while he does not have anything.

Archetypally it sounds like a heroic act, a lot of nice guys are great heroes, but in the end they stay abandoned, robbed, disappointed. «I sacrificed all for others, why do they behave with me like that?»

A nice guy can have many faces and it’s a very individual role, but there are some similarities, or, say, an archetypal track. It’s all about suppressing your needs and individuality and putting in the first place the needs and wishes of others around you.

The healthy way is to adequately evaluate your own needs and the needs coming from your surroundings, to decide what is really necessary or fair to do in a prevailing harmony with yourself, and from this position of harmony with yourself to deal fairly with your surroundings.

But a nice guy needs to train this skill, because in interacting with the others he unconsciously shows them that he will meet their needs, will help them whenever and wherever possible, thereby completely killing his own self-realization, his sovereignty that is the DNA of masculine power, and thus losing the true respect of his partner, children, neighbors, workmates.

People see him as a good person, but in reality, in their depth, they don’t respect him and his needs, because he doesn’t respect his needs himself. He just wants people to love him, wants to be their favorite, and this is the source of his life paths, behavior, thinking, decision-making, priorities, relationships. A nice guy ignores his needs himself and doesn’t live in predominant harmony with his needs, because he has no natural contact with them.

To be continued.

Credits

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Selfdev

Lojban: The Language of the Future for Both Humans and Bots?

Lojban is an experiment in constructing a human language which could be universally understood by humans from different cultural backgrounds and unambiguously parsed by bots.

Lojban (pronounced loʒban, where «ʒ» is like «s» in «pleasure») can serve as a speakable language, a literary language, an intellectual device for creative writing, a potential machine interlingua, a programming language, and even a speakable logic.

In Lojban, the meaning specified by the speaker cannot be interpreted entirely differently from how it was intended. Also, a Lojban sentence, spoken the right way, is uniquely segmentable into its component words—an invaluable characteristic for the computer parsing of speech. Lojban is described in its reference grammar as lacking syntactic ambiguity, just like most programming languages.

Imagine, you just send a voice or text message to your city administration and get what you need without filling out complicated forms or humans interfering. Or you call to a call center and solve problems without long discussions with operators. Or imagine a programmer simply dictating instructions that can be univocally translated into program code. It supposes everyone speaks Lojban of course, but maybe it would be cheaper in the future to teach it at school than to manually process infinite user requests. 🙂

If a language is unambiguous, then one’s words can easily be legally binding. If we speak blockchain, I can imagine a DAO (a blockchain-based decentralised autonomous organisation) running smart contracts which use a universal, legally binding, unambiguously parsable language.

On the other hand, Lojban isn’t a soulless, rigid language. It can be vague if one wants it to be. It also has a nice feature, attitudinals. These are essentially spoken emoticons which can be dropped in anywhere to spice up a sentence.

Lojban has been built for over fifty years (that is including its predecessor, Loglan). Its 1341 root words were created from the six most widely spoken languages (as of 1987)—Mandarin, English, Hindi, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic. It has a live community of speakers expanding its vocabulary day by day.

And to expand our horizons a bit more, here’s an inspiring Youtube channel on constructing languages called The Art of Language Invention. It’s hosted by David Peterson, creator of the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for «Game of Thrones». David’s been creating languages for more than fifteen years and published a book on the subject—a creative guide to language construction for sci-fi and fantasy fans, writers, game creators, and language lovers.

Useful Links

For Coders

  • Lojban on GitHub
  • la ilmentufa, a collection of formal grammars and syntactical parsers for the Lojban language, as well as related tools and interfaces
Categories
Selfdev

Learning English Together: All You Need to Know About Tenses

In this post I’m going to summarize the most important points about English tenses I’ve learned so far. For me as a non-native speaker, it’s one of the most confusing topics in all of English grammar, because there are many verb forms expressing time reference in English and some of them look similar but have different meanings.

They say the best way to learn something is to explain it to others, so this summary is meant as a reference both for myself and for other non-native speakers. I did my best to make it mistake free, but if you find one, let me know in comments — I’m in no way an English expert.

The Big Picture

Well, I once heard a story of the past, the present, and the future walking into a bar. I am sad to say that it was tense.

First of all, let’s see where this topic is located in a wider context of English verbs:

As you can see, the most complex topics are forms related to time, modals, and moods (especially conditional). By the way, mind mapping is a great tool for studying languages — I’ll write about it in more detail in one of my next posts.

A note on the terminology. A tense refers to time, while an aspect refers to the way an action is happening (for example, whether it’s already finished or is an ongoing process). There are three tenses in the table below — past, present, and future. The rest are aspects. By combining the three tenses with the four aspects we get twelve forms. (By the way, not everyone agrees that future is a tense, but we won’t dig that deep.)

On the table above English tenses and aspects are looking like a very well-thought system, but, unfortunately, it’s only a superficial impression. English is not a system with consistent rules, it’s rather a conglomerate of particular use cases. For example, present perfect belongs to the past at least as much as to the present, and perhaps could be better understood as a form of past tense.

The problem with this table is that its logic (in fact, any logic) doesn’t help us to quickly decide what form to use. I can’t imagine a normal person stopping in the middle of a conversation to try aligning the events she’s speaking about along the famous timeline from English textbooks.

Memory doesn’t work like this. Instead, correct usage is triggered by context. If we learn the trigger words and contexts and become used to discerning them during a conversation, then we will easily choose the right tense/aspect. So my approach is to read and exercise as much as possible instead of trying to memorize complex rules.

Nevertheless, here are the rules, or rather, as I said before, the use cases.

Present

http://unsplash.com/photos/ZMZHcvIVgbg
Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

Simple Present

Example: I study.

It’s not so simple even with the simple present, the simplest of all verb forms. We use the simple present to talk about something that is true in the present («I live in London»), or is always true («The sun is 93 million miles from the Earth»), or happens again and again in the present («I do yoga twice a week»), but also when something is fixed in the future («A post’s payout happens in seven days»).

A detailed explanation

Present Continuous

Example: I am studying.

Present continuous feels intuitive, but is actually a collection of use cases. We use the present continuous to talk about an action happening at the moment of speaking («I’m studying English now»), but also when something is happening around a given time («I’m usually studying English in the evening»), or again and again («It’s always raining here»), or when something is temporary («I’m studying English for the next two hours»). We also use it when speaking about something which is changing, growing, or developing («My English is improving»), or when something contrasts with a previous state («Nowadays most people are using computers to study English»), or when speaking about something which has been planned («What are you doing next week?»).

A detailed explanation

Present Perfect

Example: I have studied.

— How do you know that carrots are good for the eyes? — Have you seen a rabbit wearing glasses?

If we arrange verb forms by their complexity to learn for non-native speakers, I bet that the first place will be taken by the present perfect. It’s a large collection of different contexts. If we manage the present perfect, other aspects will take their right places in our mind soon.

We use the present perfect for something that started in the past and continues in the present («She has lived in London since childhood»), or, on the contrary, has changed over time («Governments have become more interested in cryptos since last year»), or for something we have done several times in the past and continue to do («He has written six books and he is working on another one»), or when we are talking about our experience up to the present («I have been to London»). We also use it for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of speaking («I can’t get in the house. I’ve lost my keys), or when we are referring to the recent past, with trigger words like «just» or «recently» («I have just finished my work»). We also use the present perfect with adverbials referring to the present, like ever, so far, until now, and yet («Have you ever seen a ghost?»).

A detailed explanation

Present Perfect Continuous

Example: I have been studying.

As I said, if we master the present perfect, the other aspects will follow. The present perfect continuous is similar to the present perfect: we are speaking about something that started but did not finish in that period of time («I’ve been writing for the last hour») or finished just recently, with more focus on the process («I’ve just been practicing my English»).

A detailed explanation

Past

http://unsplash.com/photos/7sPg5OLfExc

Simple Past

Example: I studied.

— Why did Shakespeare only write in ink? — Pencils confused him — 2B or not 2B?

Simple past is what many non-native speakers normally use when speaking about the past. But its actual use is more nuanced and limited with several cases. We use the simple past to talk about something that happened once in the past («I met my wife in 1992»), or something that happened again and again in the past («We always enjoyed visiting our friends»), or something that was true for some time in the past («I lived abroad for ten years»). Trigger words: when, ago, often, sometimes, always, yesterday, last week, at five o’clock etc.

A detailed explanation

Past Continuous

Example: I was studying.

We use the past continuous to talk about something which continued before and after another action («The children were doing their homework when I got home»), or something that happened before and after a particular time («In May she was blogging a lot»), or to show that something continued for some time («Everyone was shouting»), or something that was happening again and again («They were meeting secretly after school»). It’s also used with verbs which show change or growth («My English was improving»).

A detailed explanation

Past Perfect

Example: I had studied.

— Don’t you know the Queen’s English? — Why, yes, I’d heard she was.

We use the past perfect to express the idea that something occurred before another action or before a specific time in the past («She had never seen a bear before she moved to Russia»). We also use it to talk about the past in conditions, hypotheses, and wishes («I wish I hadn’t spent so much bitcoin last month»). Trigger words: when, before, after, since.

A detailed explanation

Past Perfect Continuous

Example: I had been studying.

We use the past perfect continuous to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past («How long had you been waiting to get on the bus?») or to show cause and effect («He was tired because he had been jogging»).

Future

http://unsplash.com/photos/rk_Zz3b7G2Y

Simple Future

Example: I will study; I am going to study.

Simple future refers to a specific time in the future. This is the only simple thing about it; the rest is complicated as it has different forms which aren’t always interchangeable: «will,» «shall» (dated), and «be going to.»

We use simple future to predict a future event («It will rain tomorrow» or «John Smith is going to be the next president»), to express a voluntary action («I’ll do the washing-up») or a plan («I’m going to be an actor when I grow up»), to give orders («You will do exactly as I say») or an invitation («Will you come to the dance with me?»), to make an offer or a suggestion («Shall we go to the cinema tonight?), or to ask for advice («What shall I tell the investors about this money?»).

A detailed explanation

Future Continuous

Example: I will be studying; I am going to be studying.

We use the future continuous to show that a longer action in the future will be interrupted by a shorter action («He will be studying at the library tonight, so he will not see her when she arrives»). We can use a specific time as a kind of interruption («Tonight at six pm, I am going to be eating dinner»). Future continuous has two interchangeable forms: «will be doing» and «be going to be doing.»

A detailed explanation

Future Perfect

Example: I will have studied; I am going to have studied.

We use the future perfect to show that something will happen before another action or a specific time in the future («You will have perfected your English by the time you finish reading this article»), or will continue up until another action in the future («I will have been in London for three months by the time I leave»). Future perfect has two interchangeable forms: «will have done» and «be going to have done.»

A detailed explanation

Future Perfect Continuous

Example: I will have been studying; I am going to have been studying.

We use the future perfect continuous to show that something will continue up until a particular event or time in the future («How long will you have been studying when you graduate?»). It can also be used to show cause and effect («Her English will be perfect when she returns home because she is going to have been studying English in London for two years»). Future perfect continuous has two interchangeable forms: «will have been doing» and «be going to have been doing.»

A detailed explanation

That’s all about tenses and aspects. I don’t cover here other verb forms like future in the past, «used to,» or «would always.»

Oh, and if you want to write really well, don’t forget about these rules! 🙂

My Related Posts

Useful Links and Resources

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Selfdev

Pomodoro Technique: a Productivity Tool for Every Writer

The Pomodoro Technique® is a technique helping to manage time, avoid distractions, eliminate burnout, and keep safe from procrastination. It’s especially useful for people spending a lot of time with computer, like developers, designers, bloggers, researchers, or students. That’s why I find it potentially very useful for us Steemit users — everyone here is a blogger by definition and many of us are also developers or other computer specialists.

Pomodoro technique is easy and fun to use, and it brings instant results. Its name comes from a pomodoro kitchen timer used by the author, Francesco Cirillo, to chunk work time into fixed blocks (called pomodoros) alternating with short relax.

How It works

  1. Choose a task to work on.
  2. Set the timer for 25 minutes with the intention to spend them on this task exclusively without any interruption.
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings. If you realize you also have something else to do, quickly write it down and continue working on the original task.
  4. Mark a pomodoro as finished and reward yourself with a 5-minute break. Breathe, meditate, grab a cup of coffee or do something else relaxing and unrelated to work.

Once you’ve completed four pomodoros, take a longer break. Your brain will use this time to assimilate new information and rest before the next round of pomodoros.

As easy as that. Give it a try and share the results in the comments!

This post took me 3 pomodoros to write 🙂

Official website

Visit the official site to find more details, tips and courses on using the technique. You can even become a certified Pomodoro trainer!

Francesco Cirillo invented the Pomodoro Technique in the 1980s. He has worked at the forefront of the software industry for twenty years and mentored thousands of developers and software teams during his career spanning startups, multinationals and freelance consulting.

Apps

  • PomoDoneApp. The easiest way to track your workflow on top of your current task management service. Connects to task managers like Trello, Evernote, Todoist, or Basecamp, to name a few. Has a free lightweight version.
  • Focus Booster. Paid version only with basic technique implementation and some time tracking features.
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Selfdev

Planning the day with the 1-3—5 rule

If you have too much tasks on your todo list and are burning out under this pressure, you’ll find this little trick refreshing and useful. Just select from your list one big, three medium and five small items and narrow down your to-do list for the day just to these nine things. Like this:

I usually use my own planning system (will share it in one of my next posts), but today I decided not to stick to it and give a try to a different approach. Let’s try it together and then share the experiences!

The idea comes from a book called The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career by co-founder of The Muse, a career portal. Via Chris Guillebeau. Image courtesy of magro_kr

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Selfdev

Creative Thinking with Random Stimulus: quickly find new ideas and develop creativity in the process

Random Stimulus is a simple yet powerful idea generation method. It can be used to find solutions and develop creative thinking. If you want to get the wheels moving on a project, it’s the tool to use.

A random stimulus is an object (word, image, symbol, everyday object) unrelated with the problem to solve and not depending on your intention. By connecting such an object to the problem to solve you become able to look at the problem in a new way and find ideas that otherwise wouldn’t come.

Here’s how it works: name the problem you’re solving, choose a random object and connect them. As simple as that, but God is in the details.

1. Clearly articulate the problem that needs solution

It’s enormously important to understand why you need ideas and what’s the problem you are trying to solve using them. However, it’s equally important not to have a premade solution in mind. Be firm in what you need, be open to what the solution would look like.

It’s good to sum it all up in a question, for example now I am preparing a Steemit contest and am asking myself: «What ideas would help me make an outstanding and exciting contest?».

2. Choose a random stimulus in a formal and binding way

Make clear how you will get the stimulus and promise yourself to accept any stimulus you get. Don’t change your mind out of fear the stimulus isn’t meaningful enough. It would lead you to known paths and known paths are exactly what you should get rid of first when creating something new.

My way of getting a fast and clear random stimulus is to look around for the closest red object. For example, now it’s the bottom soldered contact of a bulb drawn on the cover of Edward de Bono’s book «Lateral thinking: Creativity step by step» lying on my desk which I use as a reference for this post.

By the way this book goes really deep about how creative thinking works. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in creativity. Edward de Bono is an internationally recognized creative thinking expert whose course on creative thinking I took part in at Oxford some years ago. He’s the author of acclaimed thinking techniques, such as Six Thinking Hats.

Another simple way of getting a stimulus is using a random number to select a corresponding word from a list like this one.

3. Connect the problem to the stimulus and generate ideas

Just keep in mind both your question and the stimulus and the free associations will soon start coming. Let them come and pass freely — don’t stop for long at any of them, just remember to write them down as soon as they appear.

I consider this ability to interconnect seemingly unrelated things the most important creativity skill and this skill could be easily trained using Random Stimulus. Gradually you will start seeing even uninvited distractions as answers to your questions.

It could be useful to list the stimulus properties and start free associating from them.

If no ideas is generated within the first 5 minutes of brainstorming, postpone it and ask yourself whether you would feel really comfortable if your problem will be solved. Sometimes things go much deeper than just getting hot ideas and making them work. You could self-sabotage the whole thing, and then no idea generation technique will help you until you resolve that inner tension.

4. Choose the best ideas and develop them

It’s important to take at least a short a break before starting comparing and evaluating the ideas you wrote down at step 3. You need to get calm after the burst of creativity you’ve experienced before proceeding to idea selection.

Be careful when selecting ideas. It’s easy to overlook the idea’s potential if this idea isn’t yet articulated well enough.

Any idea, however good, is no more than a vector pointing to where you need to come. Share your ideas first with a few people you trust and ask for feedback. Work on the best idea to make it really good and then do it.

Useful links

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Selfdev

Plutarch as a life coach

Plutarch, a famous classical Greek author, once wrote a brilliant sentence which could be easily applied to our identity search here on Steemit.

«We do not expect a vine to bear figs, nor an olive grapes, yet nowadays, with regard to ourselves, if we have not at one and the same time the privilege of being accounted rich and learned, generals and philosophers, flatterers and outspoken, stingy and extravagant, we slander ourselves and are dissatisfied, and despise ourselves as living a maimed and imperfect life». (Moralia)

That’s still true in our time and environment. If we are not a blockchain guru and cryptocurrency millionaire, we think we are living an imperfect life. The truth is, just one thing is enough to make us successful: to be truly ourselves. Then time and luck are on our side.

Header image: Dōmo-kōmo from the Bakemono Zukushi, a Japanese handscroll depicting 24 traditional monsters. Source: Wikimedia Commons

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Selfdev

What is money to you?

To me, money is the equivalent of love to life. It means to be open to infinite new possibilities life brings about and to do things I never tried before. If I only focus on things I find most important, I’m in a box, however smart and hard-working I am. To love life implies seeking its love, with care and respect and without any expectations.