30 Highlights from "Spark : How exercise will improve the performance of your brain" By Dr. John Ratey

1.       In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection. —Plato

2.       It was already known that exercise increases levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine—important neurotransmitters that traffic in thoughts and emotions.

3.       They don’t know that toxic levels of stress erode the connections between the billions of nerve cells in the brain or that chronic depression shrinks certain areas of the brain. And they don’t know that, conversely, exercise unleashes a cascade of neurochemicals and growth factors that can reverse this process, physically bolstering the brain’s infrastructure. In fact, the brain responds like muscles do, growing with use, withering with inactivity.

4.       It turns out that moving our muscles produces proteins that travel through the bloodstream and into the brain, where they play pivotal roles in the mechanisms of our highest thought processes. They bear names such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and they provide an unprecedented view of the mind-body connection.

5.       In October of 2000 researchers from Duke University made the New York Times with a study showing that exercise is better than sertraline (Zoloft) at treating depression.

6.       If exercise came in pill form, it would be plastered across the front page, hailed as the blockbuster drug of the century.

7.       In Naperville, Illinois, gym class has transformed the student body of nineteen thousand into perhaps the fittest in the nation. Among one entire class of sophomores, only 3 percent were overweight, versus the national average of 30 percent. What’s more surprising—stunning—is that the program has also turned those students into some of the smartest in the nation. In 1999 Naperville’s eighth graders were among some 230,000 students from around the world who took an international standards test called TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), which evaluates knowledge of math and science. In recent years, students in China, Japan, and Singapore have outpaced American kids in these crucial subjects, but Naperville is the conspicuous exception: when its students took the TIMSS, they finished sixth in math and first in the world in science.

8.        Few researchers have tackled the question, although one study from Virginia Tech showed that cutting gym class and allocating more time to math, science, and reading did not improve test scores, as so many school administrators assume it will. Because gym class can mean so many things, research in this area has focused on the correlation between physical fitness and academic achievement. The most telling studies come from the California Department of Education (CDE). Over the past five years, the CDE has consistently shown that students with higher fitness scores also have higher test scores.

9.       In 2001 fit kids scored twice as well on academic tests as their unfit peers. Among California’s 279,000 ninth graders, for instance, those who scored a six on the FitnessGram ranked, on average, in the sixty-seventh percentile in math and the forty-fifth percentile in reading on the Stanford Achievement Test. If these scores seem less than stellar, consider those of the students who passed only one of the six areas: they ranked in the thirty-fifth and twenty-first percentiles, respectively.

10.   Indeed, studies suggest that simply getting on the scale every morning improves the likelihood that someone who’s overweight will shed pounds.

11.   In 2005 the physical education staff expanded gym from one class a week to forty-five minutes a day, focused almost entirely on cardiovascular activity. In the span of one school year, the students’ fitness levels improved dramatically, and counselors reported that the number of incidents involving violence at Woodland decreased decreased from 228 to 95 for the year.

12.   I tell people that going for a run is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin because, like the drugs, exercise elevates these neurotransmitters. It’s a handy metaphor to get the point across, but the deeper explanation is that exercise balances neurotransmitters—along with the rest of the neurochemicals in the brain.

13.   Only a mobile creature needs a brain, points out New York University neurophysiologist Rodolfo Llinás in his 2002 book, I of the Vortex: From Neurons to Self. To illustrate, he uses the example of a tiny jellyfish-like animal called a sea squirt: Born with a simple spinal cord and a three hundred–neuron “brain,” the larva motors around in the shallows until it finds a nice patch of coral on which to put down its roots. It has about twelve hours to do so, or it will die. Once safely attached, however, the sea squirt simply eats its brain. For most of its life, it looks much more like a plant than an animal, and since it’s not moving, it has no use for its brain. Llinás’s interpretation: “That which we call thinking is the evolutionary internalization of movement.”

14.   Indeed, in a 2007 study of humans, German researchers found that people learn vocabulary words 20 percent faster following exercise than they did before exercise, and that the rate of learning correlated directly with levels of BDNF.

15.   Learning and memory evolved in concert with the motor functions that allowed our ancestors to track down food, so as far as our brains are concerned, if we’re not moving, there’s no real need to learn anything.

16.   One thing scientists know for sure is that you can’t learn difficult material while you’re exercising at high intensity because blood is shunted away from the prefrontal cortex, and this hampers your executive function.

17.    An imbalance of these neurotransmitters is why some people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) come across as stress junkies. They have to get stressed to focus.

18.   If you exercise or even just socialize, you’re tapping into the evolutionary antidote to stress.

19.   Studies show that if researchers exercise rats that have been chronically stressed, that activity makes the hippocampus grow back to its preshriveled state. The mechanisms by which exercise changes how we think and feel are so much more effective than donuts, medicines, and wine. When you say you feel less stressed out after you go for a swim, or even a fast walk, you are.

20.   Just keep in mind that the more stress you have, the more your body needs to move to keep your brain running smoothly.

21.   A massive Dutch study of 19,288 twins and their families published in 2006 showed that exercisers are less anxious, less depressed, less neurotic, and also more socially outgoing.

22.    Exercise also boosts dopamine, which improves mood and feelings of wellness and jump-starts the attention system. Dopamine is all about motivation and attention. Studies have shown that chronic exercise increases dopamine storage in the brain and also triggers the production of enzymes that create dopamine receptors in the reward center of the brain, and this provides a feeling of satisfaction when we have accomplished something.

23.   A study in London in 2004 showed that even ten minutes of exercise could blunt an alcoholic’s craving.

24.   The fact that exercise counteracts anxiety and depression directly can have a huge impact on any form of addiction, as both of these mood states undermine treatment.

25.   And while I often suggest that people exercise in the morning, if your goal is to break a habit such as having a drink every night when you come home, exercising in the evening is probably a better strategy. You can use the aerobic shot for a different kind of buzz.

26.   Specifically, every fifty minutes of weekly exercise correlated to a 50 percent drop in the odds of being depressed.

27.   Population studies have shown that countries in which people eat a lot of fish have lower incidence of bipolar disorder. And some people use omega-3s as a stand-alone treatment for mood disorders and ADHD.

28.   AEROBIC. Exercise four days a week, varying from thirty minutes to an hour, at 60 to 65 percent of your maximum heart rate. At this level, you’ll be burning fat in the body and generating the ingredients necessary for all the structural changes in the brain I’ve discussed.

29.   STRENGTH. Hit the weights or resistance machines twice a week, doing three sets of your exercises at weights that allows you to do ten to fifteen repetitions in each set.

30.   BALANCE AND FLEXIBILITY. Focus on these abilities twice a week for thirty minutes or so. Yoga, Pilates, tai chi, martial arts, and dance all involve these skills, which are important to staying agile.


In a former life, I often played poker.  A key concept that bad poker players fail to grasp is the concept of avoiding ruin. If one is to be a good poker player, one needs to be sufficiently bankrolled.  One should only spend a small fraction of their bankroll at each game. For instance if one's bankroll is $1000 and they bet all of it on chance of tripling their money with a 50% chance of winning, half the time they will lose that bet be ruined, ie broken.  A better strategy is to bet $1 with a chance of winning $3 at 50% probability, so that if you were to lose the $1 you will still have $999 more to lose and eventually if you continue playing your $1000 would have tripled without ruin.

This concept can also be applied in life, risk little at a time.  When one innovates the goal is to extract some measure of value from the innovation, but there is always some risk involved.  As an example, you came up with a idea for a website, a site dedicated to cats wearing top-hats.  The risk you are taking are two fold, social and financial.  You could be laughed at for the rest of your days ie social risk and also the monies spending on developing and marketing the site could be lost if the website doesn't recoup a profit ie financial risk.  It is hard to assess the risk one can take reputation, thus it would be more valuable to assess one's financial risk.

A very conservative bankroll in poker is 200 times the max buy-in for one game, ie you would need to lose 200 games or more to lose your bankroll. My proposition is that when one undertakes a venture, he should be able to do it 200+ times without ruin, also the venture he undertakes would be sufficient profitable that it would pay for any loses sustained.

In essence, we are looking for opportunities with little risk with enormous pay off.  Such opportunities tend to come with a high risk of failure on each individual attempt.  Consider singing, each time a singer creates a song, it very unlikely it will become a hit, but if it does it will have enormous pay off. In ones lifetime one could make thousand of songs. It's opportunities like this in which one should seek to engage oneself.

Other examples of opportunities with little risk and enormous pay off:

1. Creating and selling Utility Software

2. Small Game Development

3. Writing blog[<---me]

4. Writing and selling short stories/novels/books

5. Writing and selling tutorials[<--I should try this]

6. Prove a mathematical theorem

7. Create Artificial General Intelligence[<---also me]

40 Highlights From 7 Easy Ways to Say NO to Difficult People by Stephanie Sterner

1. Those who care about you will understand your need to put yourself first once in a while. And those who don’t will struggle to deal with the new you: someone who can no longer be intimidated by a look, a tone of voice, or an unrealistic demand. This new you will quickly learn how to respond to different types of people and situations without sacrificing what matters to you: your time, your relationships, and your good feelings about yourself.

2. The world is full of people who aren’t afraid to ask for what they want … no matter how unreasonable the request may be. And they know that the world is also full of people who will give them what they want – with a bit of persistence.

3.In our sometimes desperate need to feel good about ourselves, we make choices that don’t serve us. We want others to like us, and we want to believe that we’re good people. When others approve of us (as they will when we do things for them that they have no right to expect), we temporarily feel better. Guilt is replaced by a sense of relief. “I really am a good person!”

4. But trying to keep everyone happy keeps you miserable. When you need someone’s approval, that person has power over you. When you want to avoid conflict, anyone who’s willing to argue has power over you. If you’re going to take your life back, you’ll need to let go of the idea that everyone must be (or even can be) happy. You’ll need to be willing to move out of your comfort zone when necessary.

5. Setting boundaries allows you to see what your relationships are really based on – friendship or convenience. Do you really want to surround yourself with people who are only with you because it’s convenient – because you consistently put their needs ahead of your own?

6. The 1st Easy Way Buy Yourself Some Time 

7. Often we put pressure on ourselves (or succumb to the pressure of others) to make an instant decision, to know exactly what we can and cannot do without any time for contemplation. While some decisions may be that simple (“ Hey, wanna go grab a pizza?”), others are not. When the decision isn’t a simple one, give yourself whatever time you need.

8. Once you commit to something, you’ll find it difficult to un-commit.

9. It can be tough to find the words in the moment, so here are some great ways to give yourself the gift of time: 

   a. Let me see how my day goes. 

   b. I’ll let you know tomorrow. 

   c. I’ll check my schedule and get back to you this afternoon. 

   d. I’m not sure I feel comfortable doing that. 

   e. I’ll let you know in the morning. 

   f. I’ll need to check my other commitments. 

   g. Please send me an email with the details. 

   h. I’m taking a friend to the airport tomorrow, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it. 

   i. Can I check my schedule and get back to you in the morning? 

   j. Co-signing a loan is more than a formality. It affects what I can borrow in the future. Let me know the details and I’ll think about it. 

   k. I’ll need to give that some thought. Let’s talk about it on Monday. 

   l. I feel uncomfortable agreeing to that, but I’m not sure why. Let me think about it and get back to you.

   m. Send me your business plan and I’ll think about it. 

   n. I can’t even think about the weekend yet. Ask me again on Thursday morning.

10.Over-explaining is a way of giving away your power. It gives the other person something to argue with. This tactic can be used to wear you down, whether you’re explaining your need for more time or the reason for your final decision. Don’t give your power to someone who will disrespect it.

11. Stating that you’re not sure you feel comfortable lets the person know that you may come back with a no.

12. The downside of this option is that someone who is less interested in your wellbeing may take the opportunity to pressure you. A “friend” (whom you see at social gatherings but don’t spend any one-on-one time with) may immediately want to know why you’re not comfortable. Don’t fall for this! When someone who isn’t close to you wants to know why you might not do something, it’s most likely the beginning of a long “debate.” Don’t let someone you hardly know talk you into doing something you don’t feel good about. If someone asks why, you can give a general response that simply reiterates your possible discomfort and your commitment to responding: 

I’m just not sure. I’ll let you know in the morning.

13. Repetition, as you’ll see later on, is a fairly powerful way of stating your boundary. It lets the other person know that you’re not backing off.

14. When the other person has authority over you, asking is a way of acknowledging their position. When the relationship is important for other reasons (as it is with those close to you), asking can be a nice way to communicate that. 

15. When the other person isn’t close to you and doesn’t have authority over you, asking permission is seldom a good idea. It gives the other person power over you – a power that they haven’t earned and may abuse.

16. The 2nd Easy Way Think Outside the Box

17. Rather than thinking about what you don’t want, shift your thinking to what you do want.

18.Look for Other Options Your brother wants you to babysit on Friday night. You have a good relationship with him; you enjoy spending time with his children. And he doesn’t ask you for much, so you’d like to help. But you work long hours during the week, and by Friday you’re tired. Friday night is your night. You don’t want to give it to anyone – especially if it means tiring yourself out even more! You want a quiet Friday evening, but you also want to help your brother. So start with the basics: What’s happening on Friday night? Your brother wants to surprise his wife and take her to a concert. (She loves classical music.) He chose Friday because it would be nice for them to relax at the end of the week. Now that you understand his needs, it’s time to express yours. I’d love to help; you and Susan certainly deserve a night to yourselves, and I love spending time with the kids. But Fridays are difficult for me. I feel drained at the end of the week, and I really need the time to relax and recharge. I’d feel overwhelmed by the kids instead of enjoying the time with them. What about Saturday night? Would that work for you? Saturday is probably fine. And if it isn’t, keep looking for more options. Maybe Mom can join you, so that you won’t feel so overwhelmed (not ideal, but maybe you’re willing to do it for your brother). Or maybe your brother can take his children to other relatives or friends who would be happy to look after them. You don’t have to be physically present for the solution. Just help your brother to get what matters to him while still respecting your own needs. Thinking out of the box is an important skill.

19. The trick is to understand what everyone wants and find a solution that honors everyone – including you. Often this is easier than it seems. And when it isn’t … well, there are still five more tips to help you keep those important boundaries in place!

20. The 3rd Easy Way Recognize Flattery for What It Is

21. “I know I can count on you when I’m in a pinch. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” I can’t help you this time. But you’ll do just fine without me. The relevant facts are simple: you’re not available, and although your assistance makes things easier, it’s not necessary.

22. This tactic contains a double whammy: the power of flattery and the power of guilt. He knows he can count on you because you’ve bailed him out before – far too many times, in fact. Taking responsibility for someone else’s mistakes on a regular basis is not a badge of honor. It’s a pattern that leads to anger and resentment – and often prevents us from doing the things that truly matter to us.

23. The 4th Easy Way No Excuses, No Justifications

24.  Some people will use anything you say against you. When you give them a reason, they’ll come up with a way to rearrange your life so that you can still accommodate them.

25. So don’t say so much. Making excuses means handing your power to others; it suggests you must justify yourself to them. Unless you’re dealing with someone in authority, say as little as possible. Don’t let anyone talk you into something you’ll regret later.

26. Here are some ways to hold on to your power and just say no: 

    I can’t help you with that. 

    I won’t be there. 

    You’ll have to manage without me this time. 

 I’d really like to help you get that job. But I’m just not willing to recommend someone who doesn’t have the experience they require. This may sound like an excuse, but it isn’t. It’s a clear statement of where your boundary lies. “I don’t really know him so well,” is an excuse – unless it’s the primary reason you’re uncomfortable with the request. In that case, consider a stronger statement: 

I don’t know him well enough to contact him about this. It wouldn’t be appropriate. 

I’m not taking on any more commitments for a couple of weeks. 

If you still need help after the 15th, talk to me then and I’ll see what I can do. 

27. If the attempts continue, simply repeat your decision, either in the same words or with something similar: 

    I [still] can’t help you. 

    I won’t be there. 

    I understand. And you’ll have to manage without me. 

    I’m sorry, but it’s just not appropriate. 

    If you still need help after the 15th, I’ll see what I can do

28. What if they keep insisting?

29. With a bit of practice, you’ll need excuses less and less. Excuses are another way of giving away your power. When the relationship doesn’t justify it, making excuses tells the other person that you want him to be satisfied with your decision; you need his approval – which he can (and often will) withhold.

30. The 5th Easy Way Handle Manipulation Directly

31. If you’re susceptible to guilt, the people who know this have a degree of power over you. They’ve learned through experience that you’ll give them what they want in order to make that horrible feeling go away. Here are some examples, along with some ways to stop them in their tracks:


“You’re the only one who will help me. No one else cares.” 

This is a classic “poor me” scenario, with you as the hero. If you feel sorry for the underdog, then this one will pull on your heartstrings. Watch out or you’ll feel terribly sorry for this poor victim ... and painfully guilty until you agree to do whatever he’s asking.

32. “How can you be so selfish?” What this really means is, “How can you put your needs before mine?” Take a deep breath and remind yourself of this. With this understanding, all sorts of great responses come to mind. Here are just a few:

     a. I’m not going to feel guilty for putting my needs ahead of yours once in a while. Here you’re using the “g” word. You’ve named the tactic and directly stated that you won’t be giving in to it. You’ve also suggested that you’ve put the other person first more often than you should. It doesn’t get much clearer than this.


      b. I’ve done this out of guilt for years. My dues are more than paid. There’s that “g” word again! You’ve made it clear that your guilt has passed its sell-by date. Using it to manipulate you just won’t work.

33. Obligations don’t last forever. At some point you’ve done enough. It’s up to you to decide when you’ve reached that point. And it’s up to you to choose how to repay your obligations.

34. The 6th Easy Way Handle Manipulation Politely

35. Sometimes you don’t want to be that direct – either because you’re worried about the consequences, or because you have a strong need to be polite. Some of us just can’t be that direct (even when the other person’s behavior is beyond inappropriate). Sometimes we simply aren’t willing to face the likely political consequences.

36. “How can you be so selfish?” 

Remember that this really means, “How can you put your needs before mine?” Once you’ve taken that deep breath and reminded yourself of this, here are some more subtle ways to let people know that this strategy just won’t work with you:

Sometimes I need to put my own needs first. This is one of those times. You’ve restated the situation in your own terms and made it clear that you won’t accept the other’s arbitrary labels. You haven’t come out and accused the speaker of guilt-tripping, but you’ve still made it quite clear that you’re not falling for that trick. 

How interesting ... I’m actually starting to feel guilty about putting my own needs first. I guess I’m just not used to it yet. Let me know if you need anything after the 15th, and I’ll see what I can do. Then leave, hang up or (if neither of these is an option) change the subject. You’ve made your point: this attempt to make me feel guilty isn’t working, even though I do feel uncomfortable. I see what you’re up to. And I’m maintaining my boundary in spite of the discomfort. What makes these responses less direct – and more polite? In both cases, you’ve put everything in terms of yourself. There are no accusations, no statements about the inappropriateness of the other person’s actions, statements or feelings. The focus is on you, so wounded egos and aggressive responses are less likely.

37. The 7th Easy Way The Broken Record Technique 

38. The broken record technique can be used to reinforce any of the previous techniques. It’s most appropriate when you’ve stated your decision clearly and someone is still trying to talk you out of it. It’s also great for someone who just won’t take no for an answer.

This technique consists of repeating something over and over, until the other person finally figures out that you really mean it. 

39. The formula is simple: 

     a. State your decision simply, clearly and firmly. Your words, your tone and the expression on your face should all say the same thing: Yes, I really mean it. No, it’s not negotiable. 


     b. Repeat as needed.


40. When the answer is no, you don’t need to find ten different ways to say it. No is no. Nothing makes that point better than repetition.

26 Highlights from Mini Habits by Stephen Guise

1. Let's begin your first mini habit. Read at least two pages of this book every day until you finish it. You may read more than that, but never less. It won’t require much time or effort to read two pages, so there are no excuses. 

2. Big intentions are worthless if they don't bring results. For example, I can say that I will exercise for two hours every day, but if I never do it, the size of the intention doesn't matter. In fact, intention without action harms self-confidence. People have been shown in studies to chronically overestimate their self-control ability. These two simple points reveal why so many people struggle to change. They have big ambitions, but overestimate their ability to make themselves do what it takes to change. It's a mismatch between desire and ability. 

3. Doing a little bit every day has a greater impact than doing a lot on one day. How much greater? Profoundly so, because a little bit every day is enough to grow into a lifelong foundational habit, and those are a big deal, as you'll see.

4. This book exists because I did one push-up on December 28, 2012. My ability to do 16 pull-ups in a row and my improved physique result from that same push-up. I read and write every single day because of that push-up. That one push-up was the first step that led to all of these great changes in my life. Every great accomplishment rests on the foundation of what came before it; when you trace it back, you'll see one small step that started it all. Without that one push-up, I'd still be struggling to get motivated to go to the gym, and to read and write consistently. That push-up lead me to discover this new strategy, which turned into these great benefits. Are you ready to hear the story of the one small action that changed everything for me? 

5. How It Began: The One Push-up Challenge I'm thinking about naming it “the golden push-up.” It was December 28, 2012 and the new year was near.

6. Ever since my later years of high school, I had tried to make exercise a habit. But for ten years it never stuck, despite my efforts. Those aren't the types of results that instill confidence in oneself! My motivational bursts to change would usually last me about two weeks before I'd quit for one reason or another. Sometimes there was no reason; I'd just stop. Wanting to do something before the arbitrary January 1st starting point associated with resolutions, I decided to start by exercising right there on the spot for 30 minutes. But I stood motionless. I couldn’t get motivated. I went through my usual “get motivated” routine. Come on Stephen. True champions put in the extra work. I tried listening to up-tempo music, visualizing myself with a great beach body, etc. Nothing worked. I felt out of shape, lethargic, and worthless to the point that I couldn't do anything. A 30-minute workout looked like Mount Everest. The idea of exercise was wholly unappealing. I felt so defeated, and I was. It wasn't just the time or the effort of a 30-minute workout that intimidated me, it was the total amount of work I needed to put in to reach my fitness desires. It was the vast distance between here and there. A year's worth of workouts weighed on my mind. I felt guilty, overwhelmed, and discouraged before I had even done anything! The Turning Point Months earlier, I had read a fantastic creative thinking and problem-solving book called Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko. One of the creative thinking “toys” he talks about is called False Faces. In False Faces, you consider the opposite of what you're currently thinking, and see what creative ideas emerge from that. A crude example: instead of building a skyscraper, what if you built a structure deep into the earth? This generates creative ideas by forcing your mind to zoom out and see the spectrum of possibilities. I had a problem to solve, and this technique popped into my head, so I thought about the opposite of a 30-minute workout. Eating ice cream and watching TV would be one opposite of exercise. Then I considered that a full 30 minutes just seemed like such a huge challenge in that moment (i.e. Everest). Another opposite, I decided, could be the workout’s size. What if, instead of this big 30-minute commitment of sweat and discomfort, I did a single push-up? I would have no requirement to do more—just one push-up.

7. The true opposite of my Mount Everest workout. I laughed off the idea, literally. How pathetic! One push-up isn't going to help anything. I really need to put in more work than that! But every time I switched back to my first plan, I couldn't do it. After I got tired of failing to do the 30-minute workout, I thought, Whatever, I'll do one push-up. I got down on the ground, did one push-up, and changed my life for good. *** When I got into push-up position, I noticed it was exactly the same as the start to an actual 30-minute workout. I did my push-up; my shoulder popped, my elbows needed WD-40; it felt like my muscles were waking up from a 24-year nap. But I did a few more since I was already in position. Every push-up was an annoyance to my underused muscles and stubborn brain. As I stood up, I concluded that it was better than nothing. Mind you, I still felt like quitting at this point. But then I had the idea to set another small challenge of one pull-up. It was too easy to turn down. I got my pull-up bar set up and did one. Then I did a few more. Interesting, I thought, this is hard, but not as hard as I was making it out to be. My muscles were warming up. My motivation to do more had definitely increased, but it was so low to start with (and I was so out of shape) that I still had plenty of internal resistance. I continued on with the same strategy, going as small as necessary to continue. During one push-up session in my workout, I had to set seven micro goals like so: ok, one more, ok, two more, now one more. Every time I baited myself with a beyond-easy challenge, I met or exceeded it. It felt nice to hit my targets, however small. When I finished, I had exercised for 20 minutes, and felt great about it. 

8. Mini habits are for good habits only—adding positive behaviors to your life to enrich it for years. Breaking bad habits and making good habits do have the same goal—replacing a default behavior with a better behavior. With bad habits, your primary motivation for change is an away response from something bad. With good habits, your primary motivation for change is a toward response to something good. Mini habits focuses on the toward response.

9. A mini habit is basically a much smaller version of a new habit you want to form. 100 push-ups daily is minified into one push-up daily. Writing 3,000 words daily becomes writing 50 words daily. Thinking positively all the time becomes thinking two positive thoughts per day. Living an entrepreneurial lifestyle becomes thinking of two ideas per day (among other entrepreneurial things). The foundation of the Mini Habits system is in “stupid small” steps. The concept of small steps is nothing new, but how and why they work have not been adequately dissected. Of course, small steps are relative too; a small step for you could be a giant leap for me. Saying “stupid small” clarifies it, because if a step sounds stupid relative to the most you can do, it's perfect. The power of the Mini Habits system is in the application, mindset, built-in positive feedback looping, naturally increasing self-efficacy, and of course, leveraging small steps into habits. This will be explained, but it's also built in; it's a simple system with a complex, smart backing. The way we act on these mini habits is by using a small amount of willpower to force ourselves to do them. It doesn't take a lot of willpower to do one push-up or come up with a couple of ideas. The benefit from following the Mini Habits system is surprisingly big results. First, there's a great chance that you'll do “bonus reps” after you meet your small requirement. This is because we already desire these positive behaviors, and starting them reduces internal resistance. 

10. The second benefit is the routine. Even if you don't exceed your small requirement, the behavior will begin to become a (mini) habit. From there, do bonus reps or scale the habit up. Another benefit is constant success. A bank may be too big to fail, but mini habits are too small to fail; and so they lack the common destructive feelings of guilt and inadequacy that come with goal failure. This is one of the very few systems that practically guarantees success every day thanks to a potent encouragement spiral and always-attainable targets. Mini habits have made me feel unstoppable; prior to starting mini habits, I felt unstartable. To summarize, a mini habit is a VERY small positive behavior that you force yourself to do every day. Small steps work every time, and habits are built by consistency, so the two were meant to be together. Hey, it’s still a better love story than Twilight.

11. To summarize, a mini habit is a VERY small positive behavior that you force yourself to do every day.

12.  A Duke University study concluded that about 45% of our behavior is from habit. They are even more important than this 45% stake suggests, because habits are frequently repeated behaviors (often daily), and this repetition adds up to big benefits or big damage in the long run.

13.  The most-cited viable study on habit formation duration was published in 2009 in the European Journal Of Social Psychology. Each participant chose an “eating, drinking or activity behavior to carry out daily in the same context (for example ‘after breakfast’) for 12 weeks.” And what did they find?  The average time for a behavior to become habit was 66 days. But the range was wild, from 18 to 254 days, showing that there is huge variation in people's time to reach habit automaticity, and that it can end up taking a very long time in some cases. 21- and 30-day challenges are popular, but they're highly unlikely to form many types of habits. Drinking a glass of water every day could fall into the 21-day window, but something more challenging like 100 sit-ups daily could take a couple hundred days or more to become habit.  That's the bad news. The good news is that habits aren't snap on, snap off—if you do 100 sit-ups for 60 days, day 61 will be much easier for you than day one was, even if it isn't completely automatic yet. Building a habit is like riding a bike up a steep incline that levels out, peaks, and goes down.To start, you have to push with all the force your legs can muster. It gets progressively easier after that, but you must keep pedaling until you reach the top of the hill or you'll go backwards and lose your progress.

14. Repetition is the language of the (subconscious) brain.

15. So really, the two keys to habit change as far as the brain is concerned are repetition and reward. It will be more willing to repeat something when there is a reward. 

16. Stress has been shown to increase habitual behavior—for better or worse! Two experiments at UCLA and one at Duke University found that stress increased people's gravitation toward habitual behavior. Based on her study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,  Professor Wendy Wood argues: “People can’t make decisions easily when stressed, are low in willpower or feeling overwhelmed. When you are too tired to make a decision, you tend to just repeat what you usually do.” This holds true for both good and bad habits and is a crucial insight for their importance in our lives.

17. The human brain is slow-changing and stable; it has routines and a framework that allow it to respond consistently to the world. Having a slow-changing brain is frustrating at times, but overall, it's highly beneficial. Imagine if your personality and life could transform overnight—you would go crazy!

18. The only way to create habits is to teach the rest of your brain to like what the prefrontal cortex wants. The prefrontal cortex is what resists chocolate cake (if at all possible), wants to learn French, wants to be fit, and would like to write a book someday. It's the conscious part of your brain that you'd identify as “you.”
But the problem is that it tires out easily. Perhaps more accurately, because its functions are so powerful, it's an energy hog that tires you out. And when you tire out (or are stressed, as we covered), the repetitious part takes over. The basal ganglia isn't conscious or aware of higher-level goals that are unique to humans. But it is an efficient pattern-repeater that saves us energy. So while it may not be “intelligent” like the prefrontal cortex, it is an incredibly important part of the brain. And once we train the basal ganglia to do positive behaviors automatically, we're really going to love it.


When motivation is at its peak (lower right corner), willpower cost is zero or negligible. That's because you don't need to force yourself to do something you already really want to do. But when motivation drops to zero, strong internal resistance means that the willpower “cost” is high (upper left corner, where willpower cost is 100 and motivation is 0).

20. A destructive habit to have is believing that you have to be motivated to act.

21. The five biggest factors found to cause ego depletion were effort, perceived difficulty, negative affect, subjective fatigue, and blood glucose levels.

22. Result with mini habits: very little ego depletion.

23. Many times, I have planned to “just write my 50” and ended up writing 3,000 words. As I mentioned earlier, I once wrote 1,000 words with a headache and no energy. I felt like Superman after doing that. I looked back on the times I was completely healthy and energetic but wasted time, and then saw what I did with a headache and no energy, and got even more excited to share this book with the world.

24. Another interesting and encouraging anecdote in favor of mini habits is related to Allen Carr's book titled The Easy Way To Quit Smoking. Carr’s book has produced greater-than-expected results for helping people quit smoking. And do you know what the basic technique is? Do you know what the difference between Carr’s book and most other quit smoking strategies is? Rick Paulas discusses the surprising success in his article about the book: What’s most shocking about the book’s contents is perhaps what’s missing. There are no stats about lung cancer, heart attacks, or strokes.

25. Carr’s five-hour seminar based on the book has a 53.3% success rate, and that absolutely blows other methods out of the water (other methods have a roughly 10-20% success rate). It’s surprising, because it’s just information. It isn’t hands on. It’s not a patch that delivers nicotine to the bloodstream. And the secret? The key ingredient? The magic? He gets smokers to believe, consciously and subconsciously, that quitting smoking is easy. When you believe, as many do, that quitting smoking is so hard—doesn't it make sense that maybe your own mind is making it difficult? Mini habits make you believe that adding healthy behaviors is easy.

26. Be the person with embarrassing goals and impressive results instead of one of the many people with impressive goals and embarrassing results.

After their own kind

So, I am the School Adviser for the chess club.  How did that come about?  A former student

wanted to form a chess club and they need a Teacher Adviser.  Someone had mention to him

that I played chess, so I was asked to fill the position, to which I consented.  The thesis of

this essay is after their own kind; what I mean by this is that the activities that you engage in

would produce more of the same activities.

I am sure if you observe your own life this is the case; the activities that you engage in, 

you get more of the same activities.   It was the case with becoming adviser for the chess club;

I played chess, so it was like here is more chess activity to do. Before I started teaching, no one

I had previously asked me to tutor their kid.  These days it is pretty common for people to request 

such of me.

After their own kind, also works with the type of people you are around.  If you hang with liars

and cheats, your friends circle proliferates with liars and cheats.  Please don't ask me how I know 

this.  One person of a particular character will introduce you to others of similar nature, who then introduces

another likeminded individual etc.  

So, how do I do I use this observation?  Well, associate with honest, kind  and caring individuals; 

don't engage in activities that you don't like doing or shouldn't be doing.

Avoiding the popularity contest

When I was in high school, I wanted to be a farmer.  I still do, but not in the conventional sense.  I recollect in my last year of high school, some of the guys were asking other students their desired profession.  I remember giving my answer and the other students being incredulous.  Why? At the time I couldn't put a definite answer on it, but I wanted to do it, not traditional farming but automated farming.

Yesterday in a lecture, I told my students why they should choose Mathematics or Science based courses to study. I articulated that Mathematics is a subject that you can prove yourself to be right; it is an objective subject.  I recall in my final year of undergrad, I got a failing grade on an exam.  I knew this couldn't be.  I knew everything on the subject like the back of my hand.  I went to the lecturer and showed him that the program that I wrote on the exam paper if you enter it into the computer it would compile and run, perfectly.  He changed my grade to 100%.  I could never do this for subjects like Literature or English which are subjective, where if I didn't hold the same opinion or favour of the lecturer I would have failed.

Along the way,  I missed my path.  I started to do things that requires me to be in the good graces of others, ie popularity contests.  What am I talking about? Startups.  You need to incur the favor of customers and investors.  I tried all my life to avoid popularity contest, but I had slipped up. I started doing stuff that that requires others approval to be successful.  It's only in the lecture I began to realise my mistake.  I should have stuck with Agriculture(subsistence farming), a field where I don't require others to be successful, and applied modern technology to ease the burdens of the job.  Subsistence farming is a field that is objective and doesn't require approval from others, me against nature.

I have added to my cadre of heurtistic: "Avoid Popularity Contests."

10 Nuggets from: "Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity"


2. The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will. How your own sovereignty inspires other people to find their own sovereignty, their own sense of freedom and possibility, will give the work far more power than the work’s objective merits ever will.

[From the chapter: The idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be yours]

3. The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task at hand covers both bases, but not often. This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended.[From the chapter: Keep your day job]

4. “The first rule of business,” he said, chuckling at my naïveté, “is never sell something you love. Otherwise, you may as well be selling your children.”

5. That means hanging out more with the creative people, the freaks, the real visionaries, than you’re already doing. Thinking more about what their needs are, and responding accordingly.

6. Everybody is too busy with their own lives to give a damn about your book, painting, screenplay, etc., especially if you haven’t finished it yet. And the ones who aren’t too busy you don’t want in your life anyway.

7. Inspiration precedes the desire to create, not the other way around.

8.  If you’re looking at a blank piece of paper and nothing comes to you, then go do something else. Writer’s block is just a symptom of feeling like you have nothing to say, combined with the rather weird idea that you should feel the need to say something.

9. The best way to get approval is not to need it. This is equally true in art and business. And love. And sex. And just about everything else worth having.

10. Beware of turning hobbies into jobs. [THE LATE BRITISH BILLIONAIRE JAMES GOLD-SMITH once quipped, “When a man marries his mistress, he immediately creates a vacancy.”]

Highlights from "Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success" by Adam Grant

1.       According to conventional wisdom, highly successful people have three things in common: motivation, ability, and opportunity.

2.       Takers have a distinctive signature: they like to get more than they give. They tilt reciprocity in their own favor, putting their own interests ahead of others’ needs.

3.       But Hornik is the opposite of a taker; he’s a giver. In the workplace, givers are a relatively rare breed. They tilt reciprocity in the other direction, preferring to give more than they get. Whereas takers tend to be self-focused, evaluating what other people can offer them, givers are other-focused, paying more attention to what other people need from them.

4.       According to research led by Yale psychologist Margaret Clark, most people act like givers in close relationships. In marriages and friendships, we contribute whenever we can without keeping score.

5.       But in the workplace, give and take becomes more complicated. Professionally, few of us act purely like givers or takers, adopting a third style instead. We become matchers, striving to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting. Matchers operate on the principle of fairness: when they help others, they protect themselves by seeking reciprocity. If you’re a matcher, you believe in tit for tat, and your relationships are governed by even exchanges of favors.

6.       But evidence shows that at work, the vast majority of people develop a primary reciprocity style, which captures how they approach most of the people most of the time. And this primary style can play as much of a role in our success as hard work, talent, and luck.

7.       Research demonstrates that givers sink to the bottom of the success ladder. Across a wide range of important occupations, givers are at a disadvantage: they make others better off but sacrifice their own success in the process.

8.       In the world of engineering, the least productive and effective engineers are givers.

9.       In a study of more than six hundred medical students in Belgium, the students with the lowest grades had unusually high scores on giver statements like “I love to help others” and “I anticipate the needs of others.”

10.   There’s even evidence that compared with takers, on average, givers earn 14 percent less money, have twice the risk of becoming victims of crimes, and are judged as 22 percent less powerful and dominant.

11.   As we’ve seen, the engineers with the lowest productivity are mostly givers. But when we look at the engineers with the highest productivity, the evidence shows that they’re givers too.

12.   The worst performers and the best performers are givers; takers and matchers are more likely to land in the middle.

13.   Belgian medical students with the lowest grades have unusually high giver scores, but so do the students with the highest grades.

14.   I found that the least productive salespeople had 25 percent higher giver scores than average performers— but so did the most productive salespeople. The top performers were givers, and they averaged 50 percent more annual revenue than the takers and matchers. Givers dominate the bottom and the top of the success ladder.



15.   In this book, I want to persuade you that we underestimate the success of givers

16.   Although we often stereotype givers as chumps and doormats, they turn out to be surprisingly successful.

17.   Successful givers recognise that there’s a big difference between taking and receiving. Taking is using other people solely for one’s own gain. Receiving is accepting help from others while maintaining a willingness to pay it back and forward.

18.   When takers win, there’s usually someone else who loses. Research shows that people tend to envy successful takers and look for ways to knock them down a notch. In contrast, when givers like David Hornik win, people are rooting for them and supporting them, rather than gunning for them. Givers succeed in a way that creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of people around them.

19.   It takes time for givers to build goodwill and trust, but eventually, they establish reputations and relationships that enhance their success.

20.   “Being a giver is not good for a 100-yard dash, but it’s valuable in a marathon.”

21.   In the 1980s, the service sector made up about half of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). By 1995, the service sector was responsible for nearly two thirds of world GDP. Today, more than 80 percent of Americans work in service jobs.

22.   Hornik responds personally to e-mails from complete strangers.

23.   But that was the only year of medical school in which the givers underperformed. By their second year, the givers had made up the gap: they were now slightly outperforming their peers. By the sixth year, the givers earned substantially higher grades than their peers.

24.   A giver style, measured six years earlier, was a better predictor of medical school grades than the effect of smoking on lung cancer rates (and the effect of using nicotine patches on quitting smoking).

25.   Why did the giver disadvantage reverse, becoming such a strong advantage? Nothing about the givers changed, but their program did. As students progress through medical school, they move from independent classes into clinical rotations, internships, and patient care. The further they advance, the more their success depends on teamwork and service. Whereas takers sometimes win in independent roles where performance is only about individual results, givers thrive in interdependent roles where collaboration matters.

26.   successful givers have unique approaches to interactions in four key domains: networking, collaborating, evaluating, and influencing.

27.   Alan Fiske, an anthropologist at UCLA, finds that people engage in a mix of giving, taking, and matching in every human culture— from North to South America, Europe to Africa, and Australia to Asia.

28.   For centuries, we have recognized the importance of networking. According to Brian Uzzi, a management professor at Northwestern University, networks come with three major advantages: private information, diverse skills, and power.

29.   Extensive research demonstrates that people with rich networks achieve higher performance ratings, get promoted faster, and earn more money.

30.   “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”

31.   Research shows that as people gain power, they feel large and in charge: less constrained and freer to express their natural tendencies. As takers gain power, they pay less attention to how they’re perceived by those below and next to them; they feel entitled to pursue self-serving goals and claim as much value as they can.

32.   In another study spearheaded by Kahneman, people had a choice between splitting $ 12 evenly with a taker who had made an unfair proposal in the past or splitting $ 10 evenly with a matcher who had made a fair proposal in the past. More than 80 percent of the people preferred to split $ 10 evenly with the matcher, accepting $ 5 rather than $ 6 to prevent the taker from getting $ 6.

33.   In networks, new research shows that when people get burned by takers, they punish them by sharing reputational information.

34.   In the animal kingdom, lekking refers to a ritual in which males show off their desirability as mates.

35.   First, when we have access to reputational information, we can see how people have treated others in their networks. Second, when we have a chance to observe the actions and imprints of takers, we can look for signs of lekking.

36.   “When you meet people,” says former Apple evangelist and Silicon Valley legend Guy Kawasaki, regardless of who they are, “you should be asking yourself, ‘How can I help the other person?’”

37.   Strong ties provide bonds, but weak ties serve as bridges: they provide more efficient access to new information. Our strong ties tend to travel in the same social circles and know about the same opportunities as we do. Weak ties are more likely to open up access to a different network, facilitating the discovery of original leads.

38.   According to the distinguished psychologist Brian Little, pronoia is “the delusional belief that other people are plotting your well-being, or saying nice things about you behind your back.”

39.   The dormant ties provided more novel information than the current contacts.

40.   Dormant ties offer the access to novel information that weak ties afford, but without the discomfort.

41.   “You should be willing to do something that will take you five minutes or less for anybody.”

42.   When takers build networks, they try to claim as much value as possible for themselves from a fixed pie.

43.   Cutting-edge research shows how Rifkin motivates other people to give. Giving, especially when it’s distinctive and consistent, establishes a pattern that shifts other people’s reciprocity styles within a group. It turns out that giving can be contagious. In one study, contagion experts James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis found that giving spreads rapidly and widely across social networks. When one person made the choice to contribute to a group at a personal cost over a series of rounds, other group members were more likely to contribute in future rounds, even when interacting with people who weren’t present for the original act. “This influence persists for multiple periods and spreads up to three degrees of separation (from person to person to person to person),” Fowler and Christakis find, such that “each additional contribution a subject makes … in the first period is tripled over the course of the experiment by other subjects who are directly or indirectly influenced to contribute more as a consequence.”

44.   By giving often, engineers built up more trust and attracted more valuable help from across their work groups— not just from the people they helped.

45.   “I’ll sum up the key to success in one word: generosity,” writes Keith Ferrazzi. “If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit.”

46.   The star investment analysts and the cardiac surgeons depended heavily on collaborators who knew them well or had strong skills of their own.

47.   This is a defining feature of how givers collaborate: they take on the tasks that are in the group’s best interest, not necessarily their own personal interests.

48.   Extensive research reveals that people who give their time and knowledge regularly to help their colleagues end up earning more raises and promotions in a wide range of settings, from banks to manufacturing companies.

49.   Glomb found that highly talented people tend to make others jealous, placing themselves at risk of being disliked, resented, ostracized, and undermined. But if these talented people are also givers, they no longer have a target on their backs. Instead, givers are appreciated for their contributions to the group.

50.   In a classic article, the psychologist Edwin Hollander argued that when people act generously in groups, they earn idiosyncrasy credits— positive impressions that accumulate in the minds of group members. Since many people think like matchers, when they work in groups, it’s very common for them to keep track of each member’s credits and debits. Once a group member earns idiosyncrasy credits through giving, matchers grant that member a license to deviate from a group’s norms or expectations. As Berkeley sociologist Robb Willer summarizes, “Groups reward individual sacrifice.”

51.   Just as matchers grant a bonus to givers in collaborations, they impose a tax on takers. In a study of Slovenian companies led by Matej Cerne, employees who hid knowledge from their coworkers struggled to generate creative ideas because their coworkers responded in kind, refusing to share information with them.

52.   Salk had broken the ‘unwritten commandments’ of scientific research,” which included “Thou shalt give credit to others.”

53.   “Even when people are well intentioned,” writes LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, “they tend to overvalue their own contributions and undervalue those of others.” This responsibility bias is a major source of failed collaborations.

54.   This is known as psychological safety— the belief that you can take a risk without being penalized or punished. Research by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson shows that in the type of psychologically safe environment that Meyer helped create, people learn and innovate more.*

55.   in one study, engineers who shared ideas without expecting anything in return were more likely to play a major role in innovation, as they made it safe to exchange information.

56.   This is a perspective gap: when we’re not experiencing a psychologically or physically intense state, we dramatically underestimate how much it will affect us. For instance, evidence shows that physicians consistently think their patients are feeling less pain than they actually are. Without being in a state of pain themselves, physicians can’t fully realize what it’s like to be in that state.

57.   In a series of studies led by the Dutch psychologist Paul van Lange, givers had more siblings than the takers and matchers. The givers averaged two siblings; the takers and matchers averaged one and a half siblings. More siblings meant more sharing, which seemed to predispose people toward giving.

58.   Interestingly, van Lange’s data showed a sister effect, not just a sibling effect. The givers didn’t have more brothers than the takers and matchers, but they were 50 percent more likely to have sisters.

59.   Teachers’ beliefs created self-fulfilling prophecies. When teachers believed their students were bloomers, they set high expectations for their success.

60.   The teachers looked for ways to make piano lessons enjoyable, which served as an early catalyst for the intense practice necessary to develop expertise. “Exploring possibilities and engaging in a wide variety of musical activities took precedence” over factors such as “right or wrong or good or bad.”

61.   When Bloom’s team interviewed eighteen American tennis players who had been ranked in the top ten in the world, they found that although their first coaches “were not exceptional coaches, they tended to be very good with young children… What this first coach provided was motivation for the child to become interested in tennis and to spend time practicing.”

62.   grit: having passion and perseverance toward long-term goals. Her research shows that above and beyond intelligence and aptitude, gritty people— by virtue of their interest, focus, and drive— achieve higher performance.

63.   Of course, natural talent also matters, but once you have a pool of candidates above the threshold of necessary potential, grit is a major factor that predicts how close they get to achieving their potential.

64.   This is why givers focus on gritty people: it’s where givers have the greatest return on their investment, the most meaningful and lasting impact.

65.   Over the past four decades, extensive research led by Staw shows that once people make an initial investment of time, energy, or resources, when it goes sour, they’re at risk for increasing their investment. Gamblers in the hole believe that if they just play one more hand of poker, they’ll be able to recover their losses or even win big.

66.   Research suggests that due to their susceptibility to ego threat, takers are more vulnerable to escalation of commitment than givers.

67.   Other studies show that people actually make more accurate and creative decisions when they’re choosing on behalf of others than themselves.

68.   “Good givers are great getters; they make everybody better,”

69.   Research suggests that there are two fundamental paths to influence: dominance and prestige. When we establish dominance, we gain influence because others see us as strong, powerful, and authoritative. When we earn prestige, we become influential because others respect and admire us.

70.   Psychologists call this the pratfall effect. Spilling a cup of coffee hurt the image of the average candidate: it was just another reason for the audience to dislike him. But the same blunder helped the expert appear human and approachable— instead of superior and distant.*

71.   Asking questions opened the door for customers to experience what the psychologist James Pennebaker calls the joy of talking. Years ago, Pennebaker divided strangers into small groups. Imagine that you’ve just joined one of his groups, and you have fifteen minutes to talk with strangers about a topic of your choice. You might chat about your hometown, where you went to college, or your career. After the fifteen minutes are up, you rate how much you like the group. It turns out that the more you talked, the more you like the group.

72.   Asking questions is a form of powerless communication that givers adopt naturally. Questions work especially well when the audience is already skeptical of your influence, such as when you lack credibility or status, or when you’re in a highly competitive negotiation situation.

73.   The expert negotiators spent much more time trying to understand the other side’s perspective: questions made up over 21 percent of the experts’ comments but less than 10 percent of the average negotiators’ comments.

74.   New research shows that advice seeking is a surprisingly effective strategy for exercising influence when we lack authority.

75.   Advice seeking tends to be significantly more persuasive than the taker’s preferred tactics of pressuring subordinates and ingratiating superiors. Advice seeking is also consistently more influential than the matcher’s default approach of trading favors.

76.   Advice seeking is a form of powerless communication that combines expressing vulnerability, asking questions, and talking tentatively.

77.   “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

78.   Selfless givers are people with high other-interest and low self-interest.

79.   Selfless giving is a form of pathological altruism, which is defined by researcher Barbara Oakley as “an unhealthy focus on others to the detriment of one’s own needs,” such that in the process of trying to help others, givers end up harming themselves.

80.   If takers are selfish and failed givers are selfless, successful givers are otherish: they care about benefiting others, but they also have ambitious goals for advancing their own interests.

81.   Being otherish is very different from matching. Matchers expect something back from each person they help. Otherish givers help with no strings attached; they’re just careful not to overextend themselves along the way.

82.   Researchers have drawn the same conclusion in health care, where burnout is often described as compassion fatigue, “the stress, strain, and weariness of caring for others.” Originally, experts believed that compassion fatigue was caused by expressing too much compassion. But new research has challenged this conclusion. As researchers Olga Klimecki and Tania Singer summarize, “More than all other factors, including… the time spent caregiving, it is the perceived suffering that leads to depressive symptoms in the caregiver.”

83.   In numerous studies, Carnegie Mellon psychologist Vicki Helgeson has found that when people give continually without concern for their own well-being, they’re at risk for poor mental and physical health.*

84.   Imagine that you’re going to perform five random acts of kindness this week. You’ll be doing things like helping a friend with a project, writing a thank-you note to a former teacher, donating blood, and visiting an elderly relative. You can choose one of two different ways to organize your giving: chunking or sprinkling. If you’re a chunker, you’ll pack all five acts of giving into a single day each week. If you’re a sprinkler, you’ll distribute your giving evenly across five different days, so that you give a little bit each day.

85.   The chunkers achieved gains in happiness; the sprinklers didn’t. Happiness increased when people performed all five giving acts in a single day, rather than doing one a day. Lyubomirsky and colleagues speculate that “spreading them over the course of a week might have diminished their salience and power or made them less distinguishable from participants’ habitual kind behavior.”

86.   One hundred seems to be a magic number when it comes to giving. In a study of more than two thousand Australian adults in their mid-sixties, those who volunteered between one hundred and eight hundred hours per year were happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who volunteered fewer than one hundred or more than eight hundred hours annually.

87.   Weinstein and Ryan measured changes in energy from day to day. Giving itself didn’t affect energy: people weren’t substantially happier on days when they helped others than on days that they didn’t. But the reasons for giving mattered immensely: on days that people helped others out of a sense of enjoyment and purpose, they experienced significant gains in energy.* Giving for these reasons conferred a greater sense of autonomy, mastery, and connection to others, and it boosted their energy.

88.   Taylor’s neuroscience research reveals that when we feel stressed, the brain’s natural response is to release chemicals that drive us to bond. This is what the firefighters did: when they started to feel exhausted, they invested their limited energy in helping their colleagues.

89.   The economist Arthur Brooks tested the relationship between income and charitable giving. Using data from almost thirty thousand Americans in the year 2000, he controlled for every factor imaginable that would affect income and giving. He adjusted for education, age, race, religious involvement, political beliefs, and marital status. He also accounted for the number of times people volunteered. As expected, higher income led to higher giving. For every $ 1 in extra income, charitable giving went up by $ 0.14.*

90.   But something much more interesting happened. For every $ 1 in extra charitable giving, income was $ 3.75 higher. Giving actually seemed to make people richer. For example, imagine that you and I are both earning $ 60,000 a year. I give $ 1,600 to charity; you give $ 2,500 to charity. Although you gave away $ 900 more than I did, according to the evidence, you’ll be on track to earn $ 3,375 more than I will in the coming year.

91.   It seems that giving adds meaning to our lives, distracts us from our own problems, and helps us feel valued by others.

92.   There’s a wealth of evidence that the ensuing happiness can motivate people to work harder, longer, smarter, and more effectively. Happiness can lead people to experience intense effort and long hours as less unpleasant and more enjoyable, set more challenging goals, and think more quickly, flexibly, and broadly about problems.

93.   Studies led by Columbia psychologist Adam Galinsky show that when we empathize at the bargaining table, focusing on our counterparts’ emotions and feelings puts us at risk of giving away too much.* But when we engage in perspective taking, considering our counterparts’ thoughts and interests, we’re more likely to find ways to make deals that satisfy our counterparts without sacrificing our own interests.

94.   Once successful givers see the value of sincerity screening and begin to spot agreeable takers as potential fakers, they protect themselves by adjusting their behavior accordingly.

95.   Peter’s experience offers a clue into how givers avoid getting burned: they become matchers in their exchanges with takers. It’s wise to start out as a giver, since research shows that trust is hard to build but easy to destroy. But once a counterpart is clearly acting like a taker, it makes sense for givers to flex their reciprocity styles and shift to a matching strategy— as Peter did by requiring Rich to reciprocate by adding value to the business.

96.   In generous tit for tat, the rule is “never forget a good turn, but occasionally forgive a bad one.” You start out cooperating and continue cooperating until your counterpart competes.

97.   As the psychologist Brian Little puts it, even if a style like giving is our first nature, our ability to prosper depends on developing enough comfort with a matching approach that it becomes second nature.

98.   Common ground is a major influence on giving behaviors. In one experiment, psychologists in the United Kingdom recruited fans of the Manchester United soccer team for a study. When walking from one building to another, the soccer fans saw a runner slip on a grass bank, where he fell holding his ankle and screaming in pain. Would they help him? It depended on the T-shirt that he was wearing. When he wore a plain T-shirt, only 33 percent helped. When he wore a Manchester United T-shirt, 92 percent helped. Yale psychologist Jack Dovidio calls this “activating a common identity.”

99.   Brett Pelham, a psychologist at the University at Buffalo, noticed that we seem to prefer people, places, and things that remind us of ourselves.

100.  Cialdini finds that people donate more money to charity when the phrase “even a penny will help” is added to a request. Interestingly, this phrase increases the number of people who give without necessarily decreasing the amount that they give.

101.  I announced that we would be running an exercise called the Reciprocity Ring, which was developed by University of Michigan sociologist Wayne Baker and his wife Cheryl at Humax. Each student would make a request to the class, and the rest of the class would try to use their knowledge, resources, and connections to help fulfill the request.

102. In one study, managers described times when they gave and received help. Of all the giving exchanges that occurred, roughly 90 percent were initiated by the recipient asking for help. Yet when we have a need, we’re often reluctant to ask for help. Much of the time, we’re embarrassed: we don’t want to look incompetent or needy, and we don’t want to burden others. As one Wharton dean explains, “The students call it Game Face: they feel pressured to look successful all the time. There can’t be any chinks in their armor, and opening up would make them vulnerable.”

103. Influence is far more powerful in the opposite direction: change people’s behaviors first, and their attitudes often follow.

104. Psychologists have found that on average, people whose names start with A and B get better grades and are accepted to higher-ranked law schools than people whose names start with C and D— and that professional baseball players whose names start with K, the symbol for strikeouts, strike out 9 percent more often than their peers.

105. Professional baseball players with positive initials (A.C.E., J.O.Y., W.O.W.) live an average of thirteen years longer than players with negative initials (B.U.M., P.I.G., D.U.D.). And in California between 1969 and 1995, compared with neutral initials, women with positive initials lived an average of 3.4 years longer, men with positive initials lived an average of 4.5 years longer, and men with negative initials died an average of 2.8 years earlier.



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105.  Grant, Adam (2013-04-11). Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success (p. 249). Orion. Kindle Edition.

Why early wins matter

“Chester, I heard you are the guy to beat”, said my classmate.  Her statement came from the fact that in the first week of doing my master’s degree, I had finished reading one of the textbooks.  You see, I wanted to set an expectation of myself to be hard working and diligent.

Previous to starting the master’s degree, I had studied a little psychology, and had come across something known as cognitive dissonance theory.  The essence of cognitive dissonance is that people tend to act in a consistent manner.  By finishing reading the book on the first week, I was setting an expectation of myself to consistently act in such a disciplined manner.

This behaviour of performing exceptionally at the beginning of  a task, I call early wins.  One of the reasons, I kept blogging is simply because I had early wins.  In a time long ago, I had a blog with over 150k views and 100+ posts, but even before this, I had a blog post with over 30k views within my first ten posts.  I think this formed the impetuous for even further writing.

Benefits of early wins:

1.       Gives Hope – If you are undertaking something that is very demanding, having an early win can give hope that you can achieve the rest of your goal.

2.       Set Other’s Expectations – If you perform well, others will notice and will be expecting such future performance from you, and it is harder to let others down than yourself.  It’s also probably good to note that if people have poor expectations of you, you should probably move away from these people.  As with positive expectations, we also tend to live up to our negative expectations.

3.       Other’s follow your lead - Given that you are ahead of the pack, others will defer to your judgement in unsure situations.

67 Highlights From Susan Pinker's "The Village Effect: Why Face-to-face Contact Matters"

So, New Year's day I read one of the many unread books on my kindle.  What follows is my highlights on my kindle for the book: The Village Effect: Why Face-to-face Contact Matters.  I BOLD highlights that I found really interesting.

“John was rich in one important way: he had amassed a committed circle of friends, most of whom knew each other and regularly crossed paths— a feature of the most powerful and effective social networks.” 1

“Digital networks and screen media have the power to make the world seem much smaller. But when it comes to certain life-changing transformations, they’re no match for face-to-face.” 2

“If we don’t interact regularly with people face-to-face, the odds are we won’t live as long, remember information as well, or be as happy as we could have been.” 3

“women’s tendency to put a premium on their social connections is one of the main reasons they live longer.” 4

“Research shows that playing cards once a week or meeting friends every Wednesday night at Starbucks adds as many years to our lives as taking beta blockers or quitting a pack-a-day smoking habit.” 5

“Sardinian villages are the only places in the world where men live nearly as long as women. Everywhere else there is a gender gap in lifespan of about five to seven years.” 6

“Steve Cole and his team at UCLA discovered that social contact switches on and off the genes that regulate our immune response to cancer and the rate of tumor growth.” 7

“For example, if you’re surrounded by a tightly connected circle of friends who regularly gather to eat and share gossip, you’ll not only have fun but you’re also likely to live an average of fifteen years longer than a loner.” 8

“a quarter of Britons of all ages feel emotionally unconnected to others, and a third do not feel connected to the wider community.” 9

“The evidence tells us that about a third of us now feel lonely, sometimes acutely.” 10