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A Shocking Number Of People Regret How They've Lived Their Lives, Says a New Study
There is, though, a positive aspect to all this. If you look hard enough.

By Chris Matyszczyk

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

Regrets, I've had a few.

But then again, too many to mention.

This seems to be the inner core of far too many sentient beings.

I'm not merely speaking of my own sadly twisted inner workings, nor of those of many of my closest friends.

You see, a new study offers a painful view of how a startling number of people feel about their lives so far.

Conducted by the U.K. non-profit Remember a Charity, the study asked 2,000 people how they feel about their life choices.

4 out of 10 confessed they wished they'd done it all differently.

The instinctively churlish will immediately snort that all this unhappiness must be a direct result of Brexit.

However, this survey offered more precisely the roots of people's regrets.

Many wish they hadn't worked so hard. Many wish they'd traveled more.

Worse, those who happen to be parents are extremely concerned about the sort of legacy they'll leave behind.

Most of these 2,000 Brits confessed they expected to be remembered as moody and anxious.


Which is surely a painful indictment of society as a whole and the tech world's constant claims to have made the world a better place.

Indeed, many of these Brits admitted they feel terrible about how much time they spent looking mindlessly at their phones.

But we at Absurdly Driven are here to shine light upon your moody, anxious darkness.

These surveyors point to the fact that many of the regretful types insisted they know they still have time to change, to experience those things they should have experienced years ago.

They know that they can still visit Ghana, ride rapids or tell their bosses what they really think of them.

I, though, think there's even greater cause for optimism here.

It seems, from this research, that 60 percent of people don't have regrets about how they've lived their lives.

Which strikes me as an enormous, unreal and quite staggering success rate.

I wonder what their secret is.

It couldn't be denial, could it?

PUBLISHED ON: AUG 2, 2019
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5 Things Socially Intelligent People Consistently Do
The future is kind

by Michael Thompson


“Being good with people is an art, and the person who provides it, is an artist.” — Seth Godin
I can’t remember one time, growing up, where I felt confident around other people. Combine a severe speech impediment, moving every two years for my dad’s job, and living in a world where most people expected some form of verbal communication, and on a daily basis, I experienced some form of social anxiety.

However, after I graduated college, I realised since the world wasn’t going to change, I would have to. A few days later, I started my first sales job.

Some people focus on their strengths to win the life they want. I didn’t. I choose the opposite, and by studying socially intelligent people, and taking the time to learn from my own successes and failures when interacting with others, I’ve managed to improve my ability to connect with them. Fast forward to today and I make my living helping people do the same.

And the best part is, by adopting the five actions below, you can get started boosting your social intelligence today.

“There will always be someone smarter than you. There will always be someone faster than you. There will always be someone stronger than you. That means that your only real job is to be the best at connecting with other people.” — Julien Smith
Socially intelligent people acknowledge absolutely everyone:
Whether it is the person holding the door, someone sharing the elevator, or the person serving them coffee, socially intelligent people acknowledge them and show them respect.

They do this because life has taught them that magic is everywhere, and everyone is capable of making it. Not only that, they also do this because they know the world is small, and people have a funny way of coming in and out of our lives.
Today, steal a line from socially intelligent people, and the next time you leave the house, put down your phone and lift up your head. Then make it a point to smile and say hello to each person you pass. You may be surprised how memorable it is for the person on the receiving end. This is for the simple fact that most people today are so busy worrying about themselves, they fail to recognise the secret to happiness is literally standing in front of them.

Socially intelligent people listen more than they speak:
You want to know who wins? Listeners do. Socially intelligent people understand this, and instead of constantly pushing their own agenda, they prioritise asking others about theirs.

The fastest way for people to like you, is by showing them that you like them. Socially intelligent people grasp this often over-looked aspect of human behaviour, and they use it to their advantage by asking questions that bring out the best in others. However, instead of being like most people, who instead of listening, think about only what they are going to say next, socially intelligent people shut up, and give the person they are speaking with their full presence.

Today, when you are talking with someone, shut up. You may be surprised by how effective it is when it comes to building relationships.
Socially intelligent people proactively share their network:

Socially intelligent people understand that the best problem-solver is a strong network. However, plenty of people know that. What separates socially intelligent people is they know that the best way to build their strong network, is by helping others to grow theirs.
Friendships are best shared. Socially intelligent people live by this. This is because experience has shown them just how much one can truly get, when their default setting is locked on giving.

Today, when someone is explaining a challenge they are facing, take a moment, and think about the people in your network who have faced a similar situation. Then take it one step further and make an introduction. You may just find that your tribe is not the only thing that grows, but also the meaning you have in your life. This is because few things matter more than helping others to reach their goals.
Socially intelligent people approach every interaction as a learning opportunity:

Socially intelligent people enjoy nothing more than learning about the perspectives, thoughts, and feelings of the people around them. This is because they already know what they know, and what makes life fun for socially intelligent people, is learning about what other people know.

Nothing creates more opportunities than adopting the mindset of a student. Socially intelligent understand this, as a result, walk through each new door with the sole purpose of meeting a new someone, with the intention of learning a new something.
Our only job is to leave each person better than we found them. Few things accomplish this better than giving someone the opportunity to teach. So today, with each door you walk through, be the student and soak in the perspectives, thoughts and feelings of those around you. Your relationships will thank you for it.

Socially intelligent people give for the sake of giving:
Socially intelligent people do not sit around prior to doing something nice for someone thinking about whether the favor will be returned. Like John Maxwell said, “Keeping score is for games, not friendships.” Socially intelligent people understand this, and they give for the sake of giving because they know that doing good to others is always the right thing to do.
Today when you have the opportunity to do something nice for someone, do not hesitate, and definitely do not think to yourself potential ways that you can benefit from this action. You may just find that by helping people to move their own needle, yours moves forward as well.

Putting a bow on it:
When it comes to our IQ, genetics play a role and there is only so much we can do. However, fortunately, for both me and you, when it comes to raising our social intelligence, there is loads that we can do, and every encounter offers an opportunity to develop this skill.
There is no reason why each time you leave the house today you cannot acknowledge every person we come into contact with.
There is no reason why each time you have a conversation today you cannot prioritize listening to their agenda instead of pushing ours.
There is no reason why each time someone describes to you a problem they are facing, you cannot think about who in our network could help them solve it.

There is no reason why each time we meet with someone today you cannot adopt the mindset of a student, and allow the person in front of you to teach you a thing or two.
There is no reason why each time the opportunity to give presents itself today you cannot do just that, without expecting anything in return.

My mom got it dead right, “Nothing compounds faster than kindness.”

So steal a line from my mom and be proactively good to people.

Today.
3
In 1 Powerful Sentence, Mark Cuban Just Gave Every Company in America a Harsh Wake-up Call[/b]
It's a simple statement, with profound implications.

By Justin BarisoAuthor, EQ Applied@JustinJBariso

Mark Cuban.GETTY IMAGES
Mark Cuban, Shark Tank investor and outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, recently took to his personal blog to comment on a major issue facing the NBA--and every employer in America.

There's been a lot of talk regarding how NBA players have really taken control of their league, with the most talented players teaming up behind the scenes to play together or asking to be traded to a different team if they're not happy with their situation.

"Some feel that the player movement we have seen ... is a problem," wrote Cuban. "I don't. I think it is exactly what we should expect, and it reflects what is happening in the job market across industries in our country."

Cuban goes on to talk about how changing times have affected the employer-employee relationship--particularly how graduates no longer want to spend their entire lives working for a single company.

"This reality has changed what it is like to be an employer," explains Cuban. "In the past, the default was that the best employees would want a long career with their employers, because that is what you did. You kept your job as long as you could. No longer."

And then, Cuban drops a major truth bomb that should wake up company executives across the country:

"Now the onus is on employers to keep their best employees happy."

It's a simple statement, with profound implications. Let's break down why employers should take heed.

Why smart employers focus on employee happiness
Every year, companies spend billions of dollars recruiting and interviewing. Why? Because they want to make sure they're hiring the best talent out there.

So why is it that once those employers get that talent, they don't work as hard to keep their people around?

The NBA is a prime example. Top players are taking matters into their own hands, working with their agents (and sometimes fellow players) to get onto teams where the salary and company culture better fit what they're looking for--even if they're still under contract with their current team.

But this example is just a microcosm of the job market as a whole. The better you are at your job, the more options you'll have. Every day, headhunters and rival companies are working hard to lure the best people away.

On top of that, recent research shows a major disconnect between how executives and workers view their workplace.

For example:

Gallup research indicates that a great majority of employees--about 70 percent--consider themselves "not engaged" or "actively disengaged" at work.
According to Google, while executives cared more about numbers and results, individual team members were far more concerned with team culture.
But all of this is great news for employees.


Why?

Because, if you add the fact that the U.S. is currently experiencing its lowest rate of unemployment in 50 years, you realize that workers have more power than ever. In fact, Bloomberg reports that employees who switch jobs are getting paid more than those who choose to stay put.

"Mobility is the power that comes with being great at your job, whether it's in the NBA or any other industry," says Cuban. "If you are one of the best, you will have the ability to decide where you want to work."

But while this is all music to employee ears, it should be a harsh wake-up call for company leaders.

As team leads or executives, ask yourselves if you and your company are providing the following for your people:

1. Good coaching

2. Team empowerment

3. An inclusive team environment

4. Good communication

5. A clear vision and strategy

6. Career development and support

Yes, it begins with making sure your salary and benefits are top-notch. But that's just the door-opener. Beyond that, you've got to make sure you're building a culture that rewards employees emotionally.

Because it's not enough to lure top talent in.

You've got to work to keep them around.

| 8:09
Mark Cuban: To Turn Around a Team, Change the Culture
PUBLISHED ON: JUL 29, 2019
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This 10-Minute Gratitude Routine Will Change Your Life

You are the one who determines how well you'll do, regardless of the circumstances you are in.


By Benjamin P. HardyContributor, Inc.com

Fundamentally, gratitude is intended to change three things:

Your past
Your present
Your future

If you're not transforming your past, present, and future, then you aren't fully experiencing the benefits of gratitude.

Every morning, you have the opportunity to trigger a mental and emotional state that sustains throughout the whole day.

If you start your day right, you'll be shocked at the momentum you can create.

Even more though, if you give yourself some space -- I'm talking 5-30 minutes -- of strategic gratitude and visualization, then you literally prime your brain to operate at a higher level throughout the day.

So here's how to apply the three methods of gratitude:

Transform Your Past
Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach, has a very important concept he teaches entrepreneurs: he calls it "The Gap and the Gain."

Most people are living in "The Gap." They always see what's missing. For example, I could get my son a candy bar on my way home from work and when I give it to him, he might say, "You didn't get the one I like."

That's the gap.

My son didn't notice or appreciate the fact that I went out of my way to get him a gift. He only noticed that the thing wasn't what it could have been.

He didn't realize that he just gained something. He only saw the gap.

Most people live their entire lives in the gap. Dan teaches his entrepreneurs instead to live in the gain. This is actually quite simple: rather than measuring yourself against your ideals, you measure yourself against where you were before.

This is very effective for goal setting. Most people don't like goals because being ambitious is emotionally taxing. It hurts to fail and it's a let down to succeed.

But these emotional problems come from focusing on the wrong thing.

People get emotionally attached to outcomes when they're living in the gap. When you live in the gain, all you see is progress. What you focus on expands.

When all you see is progress, your brain comes to expect it more and more. You get progress without being attached to specific outcomes, even though those outcomes come with increased velocity.

Every day, you could measure the gain. You could look back at the end of your day and think to yourself: What were my three greatest wins for the day?

Now, as much as "measuring" the gain is key, you also want to remember the gain.

Most people, when they look back on their past, often remember the gaps. They remember where things didn't go as well as they could have. They think about how their parents didn't show up as much as they could.

It's very easy in relationships to be in the gap -- where all you see is where the other person isn't up to par. That's a horrible way to be in a relationship. It's also not fair to the other person.

Being in the gap forces your brain to think that things cannot change. It's is how you develop a negatively fixed mindset.

So one of the key strategies of gratitude to apply is reshaping your memory of the past. Yes, you heard that correctly. Your past is not objective. Rather, your past is entirely subjective. It's a meaning. Good or bad. Happy or sad.

Gordon Livingston M.D. said:

"Each of us have similar latitude in how we interpret our own histories. We have the power to idealize or denigrate those characters that inhabit our life stories. We just need to experience both alternatives as reflections of our current need to see ourselves in certain ways, and to realize that we are all able color our past either happy or sad."

You are the person who ascribes meaning to your experiences. You are the one ascribing meaning and context to your past experiences.

It's highly likely that a great deal of your "past" is in the gap.

Gratitude allows you to re-remember your past while being entirely focused on the gain. When you re-contextualize your past, you'll never be the victim to your past again.

Most people, when they describe their current circumstances, point to their past. "I'm the way I am because of [name the experience]."

Your past does not need to be something you are the victim to. Instead, your past can be something continually inspiring you and propelling you forward.

If you truly want to embody and experience the benefits of gratitude, then you must stop trying to be "objective" about this.

You cannot say, "But you don't understand, my past really is unique and it was horrible."

I'm not trying to downplay what happened to you. Nor am I trying to ignore the emotional impact of your previous experiences.

What I'm showing you is that, quite literally, you are the designer of your past. You get to decide the narrative and perspective and context.

For example, last year, I launched my first major book, Willpower Doesn't Work. From outside perspectives, the book was likely a huge success. But for me, it was a huge failure! I had specific goals and expectations that weren't met. I had invested huge amounts of time and money and didn't succeed at the level I wanted.

For a long time, my story around that book launch was that it was a failure. Because of that story in my head, my memory of that experience was in the gap. I wasn't seeing all the brilliant things that came out of that experience.

And the truth is, insane amounts of opportunity, learning, and growth came out of that experience.

So, I'm choosing to remember the gain, not the gap. I'm choosing how I remember that experience. And as a result, I'm choosing my narrative and my past.

Your past is whatever you ascribe meaning to. You can remember the gains, or you can remember the pain.

Post-traumatic growth is the opposite of PTSD. You could have any negative experience imaginable and become better from it. This may take time, but if you are conscious about your emotions and conscious about your future, then you can turn any negative experience into a lot of gain.

Your painful experiences become the doorway to growth and experience, as well as service to others dealing with similar problems.

Your biggest failures and problems can be -- if you let them -- your greatest drivers of success, learning, and joy.

But you need to choose how you see and how you remember them.

It's entirely up to you.

You can remember the gain or the gap.

How you choose to remember determines your past.

Transform Your Present Circumstances
"Focus on circumstances and you'll be a consumer. Focus on capacity and you'll be a creator." -- Kade Janes

Very rarely are you going to be in ideal circumstances. There will always be friction and challenges to living your dreams. There will always be inconveniences.

The problem isn't actually your circumstances, but how you're looking at them.

Perfect circumstances are not actually ideal.

If you look at nature -- plants and animals that thrive do so because of difficult circumstances. As the poem by Douglas Mallach states:

"Good timber does not grow with ease:

The stronger wind, the stronger trees;

The further sky, the greater length;

The more the storm, the more the strength.

By sun and cold, by rain and snow,

In trees and men good timbers grow."

You don't want perfect circumstances. You want and need the challenge to grow.

But circumstances in general, particularly your current circumstances, need to be reframed. If you're going to pay any attention to your circumstances, you should consciously focus on the good in them.

Have gratitude for the amazing people in your life, for the opportunities you currently have, and for the chance to live on this beautiful planet.

If you're reading this article, then you have access to resources that would blow the minds of most of human history.

So, as challenging and limiting as your current circumstances are -- you're probably living in the gap. And when you live in the gap, it really doesn't matter what you have, you won't see it that way.

You could be a billionaire, and if you're in the gap, it will never be enough.

So, part one of transforming the present is appreciating it. It's not about your resources, but how resourceful you are. There are people with far less doing far more with what they have than you are.

It's not your circumstances, it's you.

But there's actually a problem with focusing on circumstances at all --you're actually far better off focusing on your capability.

This is a powerful shift.

If you focus on your circumstances, you'll find plenty to complain about. But if you focus on your capability, then your only option is to get moving.

Your capability is always above your circumstances. There is always something you can do to impact and change your life and move in the direction you want to go.

Having gratitude for the opportunity to grow and move forward is how you change your present. You see all the beauty in what you currently have, and you recognize the amazing power you have to improve upon what you have.

If you're focused on your capability, then you're more likely to put your energy into creating and moving forward. If you're more focused on your circumstances, then you're more likely to put your energy into consumption and avoidance.

How much time are you spending consuming? How much time are you spending creating?

If you're consuming, then you're likely living in the gap. You're likely focused on your circumstances and what's wrong or difficult about them.

If you're creating, then your focus isn't on your present circumstances, but your future ones. You're telling a story about your life and you're the one creating it.

This is a powerful way to live.

Have gratitude for the present and gratitude for what you can do. This allows you to create powerfully.

Transform Your Future, Right Here-And-Now
You are the designer of your past memories, your present experience, and your future as well.

Every morning, during your morning meditation and visualization session, you want to experience and fully embody gratitude for your future.

Visualization is far more powerful when it is mental and emotional. The more emotional and embodied the visualization, the more you will believe and know that it is true.

American novelist, Florence Shinn, has said,

"Faith knows it has already received and acts accordingly."

Gratitude for your future bolsters your faith.

It allows you to know that you'll succeed, long before you do.

While most people are defined by experiences from their past, successful people are defined by experiences in their future.

What experiences do you want to have?

What events in your future do you want to see occur?

Are you living your life, right now, as though those experiences were for sure going to happen?

Are you living your life, right now, to consciously create those experiences?

Do you have complete peace that your dreams will come true?

If not, then you likely won't succeed. Your negative emotional state will stop you from the very things you want.

Your emotional state is fundamental to what you create in your life and future.

If you're at a place of acceptance, peace, and trust, then you'll be able to navigate the challenges you'll face toward your dreams.

Every day, experience complete gratitude for the inevitable success of your future. Then, act the part, here and now.

Conclusion
You are the one creating your experience in life.

You are the one who shapes the meaning of your past.

You are the one who determines how well you'll do, regardless of the circumstances you are in.

As your past, your circumstances are subjective, not objective. Your circumstances are a "meaning" with which you decide what to do.

Focus on your capacity, not your circumstances. When you focus on your capacity, you realize that you have the power to create your desired future, regardless of what you see in front of you.

When you focus on capacity, you stop being bogged down by all of the friction and challenge in your current circumstances.

Undoubtedly, your life is hard. It's far from perfect. There are constraints stopping you from actively moving forward. But in large respect, those constraints are in your head.

Focusing on the constraints only makes them larger in your mind.

Focusing on what you can do about it, right now, is how you change those constraints.

You can change your life, one day at a time.

Every morning, you can experience huge amounts of gratitude for your past, your present, and your future.

If you take a few minutes to really do this, then you'll be shocked at how good you feel. You'll be shocked at the hope and optimism you feel for your future. You'll have a desire to reach out and connect with your loved ones, and tell them how grateful you are for them.

When you begin operating from a place of true gratitude, you'll immediately begin transforming your life and relationships.

What are you waiting for?

No more consuming.

No more focusing on the problems in your life or your past.

Instead, take ownership of your experience.

Take ownership for your past and your narrative of that past.

Take ownership of your current capacity.

PUBLISHED ON: JUL 26, 2019
5

আন্তর্জাতিক শিশু অধিকার সনদের ২০ নং অনুচ্ছেদের উপধারা (১) এ বলা হয়েছে ‌‘পারিবারিক পরিবেশ থেকে যে শিশু সাময়িক বা চিরতরে বঞ্চিত বা স্বার্থ রক্ষায় যে সকল শিশুর পারিবারিক পরিবেশ উপযুক্ত নয় সে সকল শিশু রাষ্ট্র থেকে বিশেষ সুরক্ষা ও সহায়তার অধিকারী।’ সরকারের সহযোগী প্রতিষ্ঠান হিসেবে বেসরকারী সংস্থাগুলো সুবিধাবঞ্চিত ও পথশিশুদের অধিকার প্রতিষ্ঠা, তাদের শারীরিক, মানসিক ও নৈতিক বিকাশ, একাডেমিক শিক্ষার ব্যবস্থা, ভরণ-পোষণ এবং ভবিষ্যত জীবনে স্বাবলম্বী করে মূলধারায় ফিরিয়ে আনতে প্রয়োজন সম্মিলিত উদ্যোগ।

দেশের মোট জনসংখ্যার ৪০% শিশু। তন্মধ্যে ১৫% হচ্ছে সুবিধাবঞ্চিত শিশু। বাংলাদেশ শিশু আইন ’১৩ এর ৮৯ অনুচ্ছেদে ১৬টি ক্যাটাগরিতে সুবিধাবঞ্চিত শিশুর কথা বলেছে। বিশ্ব শিশু অধিকার সপ্তাহ ২০১৫ এর উদ্বোধনী অনুষ্ঠানে মাননীয় প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনা সংশ্লিষ্ট মন্ত্রনালয়কে পথশিশু পুনর্বাসনের বিষয়ে সুস্পষ্ট নির্দেশনা প্রদান করেন। তিনি বলেন, “আমাদের শিশুরা কেন রাস্তায় ঘুরবে? একটা শিশুও রাস্তায় ঘুরবে না। একটা শিশুও এভাবে মানবেতর জীবন যাপন করবে না।” এ লক্ষ্যে সরকারী বেসরকারী প্রতিষ্ঠানসহ সবাইকে একযোগে পথশিশুদের পুনর্বাসনের জন্য কাজ করার জন্য পরামর্শ দেন। এই নির্দেশনার উপর ভিত্তি করে মহিলা ও শিশু মন্ত্রনালয় ঢাকা উত্তর ও দক্ষিন সিটিতে একটি জরিপের কাজ করে।। পরে ২০১৬ সাল থেকে পথশিশু পুনর্বাসনের লক্ষ্যে কার্যক্রম হাতে নেয়।

সুবিধাবঞ্চিত ও পথশিশুদের পুনর্বাসনে সরকারী বেসরকারী সমন্বিত কার্যক্রমের মাধমে তাদের দীর্ঘমেয়াদী পুনর্বাসনের লক্ষ্যে কতিপয় প্রস্তাবনা:

পথশিশু কারা? তাদের অবস্থা এবং পথশিশুর সংখ্যা:
ইউনিসেফ কর্তৃক পথশিশু বলতে, যে সকল শিশুর জন্য রাস্তা বসবাসের স্থান অথবা জীবিকার উপায় হয়ে গেছে তাদের পথশিশু বলে। ২০০৫ সালে সমাজসেবা অধিদপ্তরের এক গবেষনায় ৪১% শিশুর ঘুমানোর কোন বিছানা নেই; ৪০% প্রতিদিন গোসল করতে পারে না; ৩৫% খোলা জায়গায় পায়খানা করে; ৮৪% শিশুর কোন শীতবস্ত্র নেই; ৫৪% শিশুর অসুস্থতায় দেখার কেউ নেই; ৭৫% শিশু অসুস্থতায় ডাক্তার দেখাতে পারে না; মাদকাসক্তির চিত্র ভয়াবহ, শিশু অধিকার ফোরামের এক প্রতিবেদনে দেখা যায় ৮৫ ভাগ পথশিশু মাদকাসক্ত। ১৯% হেরোইন, ৪৪% শিশু ধূমপানে ২৮% টেবলেট, ৮% ইঞ্জেকশনে আসক্ত,; ৮০% শিশু কাজ করে জীবন টিকিয়ে রাখতে; ২০% শারিরীকভাবে নির্যাতিত হয়; ৪৬% মেয়ে শিশু যৌন নির্যাতনের শিকার হয়; ১৪.৫% শিশু সার্বিকভাবে যৌন নির্যাতনের শিকার হয় ।

পথশিশুর সংখ্যা নিয়ে বিভিন্ন মহলে মতদ্বৈততা দেখা যায়। ২০০৪ সালে বিআইডিএস জরীপ বলছে ২০২৪ সালে গিয়ে দাড়াবে ১৬ লাখ। বর্তমানে এইসংখ্যা প্রায় ১৩ বলে অনেকে মনে করছেন। প্রকৃতপক্ষে কারা পথশিশু? যারা সার্বক্ষণিকভাবে পথে থাকে, খেলে, ঘুমায়, জীবিকা নির্বাহ করে তারা যদি পথশিশু হয় তাদের সংখ্যা কত হবে? এ নিয়ে একটি বাস্তবসম্মত জরীপ হওয়া সর্বাগ্রে জরুরী। অবস্থাদৃষ্টে এই স্টাডি অনেক পুরাতন হয়ে গেছে। প্রতিনিয়ত ঝুঁকিপূর্ণ শিশুদের সংখ্যা বাড়ছে এবং নতুন সমস্যা তৈরি হচ্ছে। তাই পথশিশুদের প্রকৃত সংখ্যা বর্তমানে কত এটা না জানলে পথশিশু কার্যক্রমের জন্য বাস্তবভিত্তিক পরিকল্পনা তৈরি করা দূরূহ হবে

পথশিশু সংশ্লিষ্ট তথ্য সহায়ক পুস্তিকা:
পথশিশুদের জন্য সরকারী বেসরকারী কার্যক্রমগুলো কি আছে? কারা কি কাজ করছে সেটা সবার জানা থাকা দরকার। কে কি করছে এবং কিভাবে করছে? এ বিষয়ে একটি সহায়ক তথ্যপুস্তিকা থাকা আবশ্যক। সরকার এবিষয়ে বেসরকারী প্রতিষ্ঠানগুলোকে নিয়ে সারা দেশব্যাপী যেসব কাজ হচ্ছে তার একটি তথ্যপুস্তিকা তৈরি করতে পারেন। ষ্ট্রীট চিলড্রেন এক্টিভিস্টস্নেটওয়ার্ক সম্প্রতি ২০১৭ সালের জন্য একটি ডিরেক্টরী প্রকাশ করেছে। কিন্তু এই তথ্য যথেষ্ট নয়। পথশিশু সংশ্লিষ্ট প্রতিষ্ঠানগুলো যখন তার নিজস্ব সেবা সম্পন্ন করছে তখন শিশুটি পরবর্তী প্রয়োজনীয় সেবা কোথায় পাবে এসম্পর্কে কোন পূর্বধারণা না থাকায় ফলে আংশিক সেবা নিয়ে শিশুটি আবার পূর্বের জীবনে ফিরে যাচ্ছে। তাই এমন একটি তথ্যপুস্তিকা থাকা আবশ্যক যেখানে সারা দেশে সুবিধাবঞ্চিত শিশুদের নিয়ে কোথায় কি হচ্ছে, যোগাযোগ ঠিকানা, ক্যাপাসিটি ইত্যাদি বিষয়ে বিস্তারিত বিবরন দেয়া থাকবে যাতে এই তথ্যের সহায়তা নিয়ে শিশুদের সহায়তা দিতে সবাই সক্ষম হবে।

শেল্টারহোম ব্যবস্থাপনায় স্ট্যান্ডার্ড কমন গাইডলাইন এবং মনিটরিং ও সমন্বয়:

বাংলাদেশে সুবিধাবঞ্চিত ও পথশিশুদের নিয়ে বিভিন্ন সরকারী বেসরকারী শেল্টার হোম রয়েছে। কিন্তু এদের অনেকেই কোন নিয়ম মেনে চলে না। শিশু অধিকার বা শিশু সুরক্ষার বিধান মেনে এসব হোম পরিচালিত হওয়া বাঞ্চনীয়। এ সংক্রান্ত একটি মানসম্মত নির্দেশিকা তৈরি করতে পারে। সমাজকল্যান মন্ত্রনালয় সংশ্লিষ্ট বিভাগ ও বেসরকারী সংস্থাগুলোকে নিয়ে সবার উপযোগী শিশু হোম পরিচালনার জন্য একটি স্ট্যান্ডার্ড কমন নির্দেশিকা প্রণয়ন করা আবশ্যক। পাশাপাশি নির্দেশিকা অনুসরন করে শেল্টার হোম পরিচালিত হচ্ছে কিনা তা একটি মনিটরিং সেলের মাধ্যমে যাচাই করে দেখার জন্য সমাজসেবা এবং মহিলা ও শিশু বিষয়ক মন্ত্রনালয়ের নেতৃত্বে নেটওয়ার্ক প্রতিনিধির সমন্বয়ে গঠন করা যেতে পারে। এ ব্যাপারে একটি সুষ্পষ্ট নীতিমালা থাকবে। প্রতিটি সংস্থা যথায়থভাবে শিশু সুরক্ষা নীতি অনুসরণ করে শিশু যত্ন নিশ্চিত করছে কিনা এটা মনিটরিং সেল কর্তৃক খতিয়ে দেখার ব্যবস্থা থাকবে। মনিটরিং সেল প্রয়োজনীয় পরামর্শ দিয়ে উন্নয়নের জন্য সংশ্লিষ্ট বিভাগের নিকট সুপারিশ করবে।

পথশিশু উৎসমূখ  বন্ধে ক্যাম্পেইন/ জনসচেতনতা:
পথশিশুর উৎসস্থল সমুহে ব্যাপক প্রচারনা চালানো হবে। জাতীয়ভাবে সচেতনতামূলক সাইকেল র‌্যালীর আয়োজন করে স্থানীয় প্রশাসন ও স্থানীয় সরকারকে অর্ন্তভূক্ত করে ব্যাপক কার্যক্রম নিতে পারে। প্রতিটি শিশু স্কুল সময়ে রাস্তায় থাকতে পারবে না এ বিষয়ে ব্যাপক জনসচেতনতাসহ বিশেষ প্রণোদনার ব্যবস্থা নিতে হবে। রেল ষ্টেশন, বাস টার্মিনাল, লঞ্চ ঘাটে বিশেষ প্রহরার ব্যবস্থা থাকবে। অভিভাবকবিহীন কোন শিশুকে পাওয়া গেলে ওখান থেকেই শিশুটিকে উদ্ধার করে কোন শেল্টারে পাঠাতে হবে। পরে কাউন্সিলিং সেবা দিয়ে পরিবারে যোগাযোগ করা হবে। শিশুটি ঝুকিপূর্ণ হলে কোন শেল্টারে পুনর্বাসনের জন্য প্রেরণ করা হবে।

প্রতিষ্ঠান, স্বেচ্ছাসেবী ও কর্মীদের সক্ষমতা বৃদ্ধি:
প্রয়োজনের তুলনায় এখন অনেক বেশী সংস্থা কাজ করছে। কিন্তু ঘাটতি হচ্ছে তাদের অদক্ষতা ও অসচেতনতা। শিশুদের সাথে কিভাবে কাজ করবে, কাজ করার জন্য বিশেষ দক্ষতা, শিশু হোম পরিচালনার জন্য আবশ্যকীয় বিষয়সহ শিশু অধিকার ও সুরক্ষা সম্পর্কে জানা প্রয়োজন। অধিকাংশ স্বেচ্ছাসেবী সংগঠণগুলো এসব না বুঝে কাজ শুরু করে আর জড়িয়ে পড়ে নানান জটিলতায়। সংগঠনগুলোর সক্ষমতা বৃদ্ধিতে প্রকল্প প্রস্তাবনাসহ বাজেট প্রনয়ন, শিশু বান্ধব কাজের পরিবেশ তৈরি, কেস ম্যানেজমেন্ট সিস্টেম উন্নয়ন, পিয়ার এডুকেটর প্রশিক্ষণ, শিশু ডাটাবেইজ তৈরি, কাউন্সেলিং ও শিশু যত্ন প্রশিক্ষণ সহায়তা দিতে পারে।

মনোসামাজিক সেবা:

সুবিধাবঞ্চিত ও পথশিুরা নানা প্রতিকূলতার মাঝে বেড়ে উঠে। সাধারনত: পথশিশুদের আচরন- অসত্য বলা, অতিমাত্রা আবেগপ্রবণ, নিজ প্রয়োজনে অন্যকে প্রভাবিত করা, অপরাধ করতে কুন্ঠাবোধ না করা, কাউকে সহজে বিশ^াস করে না, ধ্বংসাত্মক কাজে আগ্রহ, নেতিবাচক আচরন, খোলামেলা স্বাধীন জীবনে অভ্যস্ত, সহজে কাউকে মান্য করে না। এদের মানসিকতার ইতিবাচক পরিবর্তনে মনোসামাজিক সহায়তা অত্যন্ত জরুরী। সুবিধাবঞ্চিত শিশুদের নিয়ে কাজ করে তাদের কাউন্সেলিং বিচক্ষণতার সাথে সম্পন্ন করা দরকার। মনোসামাজিক বিশেষজ্ঞ সমন্বয়ে একটি মনোসামাজিক সহায়ক সেল গঠণ করে সেবা নিশ্চিত করা যায়। একইভাবে হোমে অবস্থানরত জটিল শিশু রেফারাল কেস নিয়ে কাজ করবে।

প্রশিক্ষণ ও কর্মসংস্থান:

সুবিধাবঞ্চিত শিশুদের জন্য বিশেষ আনন্দময় শিক্ষাদান পদ্ধতি নিশ্চিত করা আবশ্যক। বড় শিশুদের জন্য অনানুষ্ঠানিক স্বল্পমেয়াদী শিক্ষা চালু করে এই শিশুদের জন্য সময়োপযোগী বাস্তবমূখী বৃত্তিমূলক কারিগরি প্রশিক্ষণের ব্যবস্থা করা যেতে পারে। বিভিন্ন ট্রেডে প্রশিক্ষণের পর তাদের জন্য কর্মসংস্থানের ব্যবস্থা করা হবে। কিংবা স্বল্প সূদে ব্যাংক ঋনের মাধ্যমে উদ্যোক্তা হিসেবে তাদেরকে গড়ে উঠতে সহায়তা করতে পারে। শিশুদের কে শেল্টার হোম ভিত্তিক হাতে কলমে কৃষিকাজ, মৎসচাষ, পশুপালন বিষয়ে প্রশিক্ষন দিয়ে বাস্তব জীবনের জন্য প্রস্তুত করা যেতে পারে।

মাদকাসক্ত চিকিৎসা:
সুবিধাবঞ্চিত শিশুদের অধিকাংশ কোন না কোনভাবে মাদকের সাথে পরিচিত হয়ে পড়ে। এইসকল শিশুরা মাদকাসক্তির কারণে সুন্দর ভবিষ্যৎ বিসর্জন দেয়। তাই এই শিশুদের মাদকাসক্তি চিকিৎসার জন্য প্রতিটি সেবা কেন্দ্রে বিনামূল্যে চিকিৎসার ব্যবস্থা থাকবে। শিশু হোমে প্রেরণের পূর্বেই তাদের মাদকাসক্তি চিকিৎসা নিশ্চিত করা আবশ্যক।

পরিচয়/ ঠিকানা/জন্ম নিবন্ধন:
সুবিধাবঞ্চিত শিশুদের পরিচয় ও ঠিকানা অনেক ক্ষেত্রে পাওয়া যায় না। অনেক সময় শিশুদের পিতামাতার নাম বলতে পারে না। সেক্ষেত্রে প্রতিটি শিশুর জন্ম নিবন্ধন জটিলতার কারণে সম্ভব হয় না। ফলে এইসব শিশু ভবিষ্যৎ নাগরিক সুবিধা থেকে বঞ্চিত হয়। ছোট পরিত্যক্ত শিশুদেরকে কোন পরিবারের তত্ত¡াবধানে দেয়াটা আইনী জটিলতার মধ্যে পড়ে। তাই জন্মনিবন্ধন, শিশুর অভিভাবকত্ব সংক্রান্ত বিষয়গুলো নিয়ে বিশেষজ্ঞ মতামত নিয়ে আইনী বাধাগুলো অপসারন করা খুবই অত্যাবশ্যক।

শিশুপ্রতি (টাকা) ব্যয়:
শিশুপ্রতি ব্যয় সংস্থাগুলো তার নিজস্ব নিয়মে এই ব্যয় নির্ধারিত হয়। সার্বিক বাজার ব্যবস্থা বিবেচনা করে শিশুপ্রতি ব্যয় মানসম্মত, সময়োপযোগী ও অভিন্ন হওয়া জরুরী। শিশুদের পূনর্বাসনে একই ব্যয় নীতি অনুসরন করা দরকার। খাবারের মেন্যু, শিক্ষার উপকরন, পরিস্কার পরিচ্ছন্নতা, স্বাস্থ্য সেবা, পোশাকপরিচ্ছেদ, আবাসন ফ্যাসিলিটিজ, বিছানাপত্র, টয়লেট সুবিধাদি একই মানদন্ড বজায় রেখে ব্যয় নীতিমালা করা দরকার।

শিশুরা হচ্ছে জাতির ভবিষ্যৎ। দেশের মোট জনসংখ্যার ২৫ ভাগ হচ্ছে শিশু। এদের বড় অংশ আবার সুবিধাবঞ্চিত। পরিপূর্ণ শিশু বিকাশ ও শিশু উন্নয়ন ব্যাহত হলে জাতি মেধাশূন্য নেতৃত্ব পাবে। থেমে যাবে জাতির অগ্রগতি। তাই সকল বিষয়ে শিশুর স্বার্থ হবে সর্বোত্তম। দীর্ঘদিনের প্রত্যাশা একটি পৃথক শিশু অধিদপ্তর। যারা শিশুদের স্বার্থে দেশব্যাপী কার্যক্রম পরিকল্পনা, বাস্তবায়ন, পরিবীক্ষণ, মূল্যায়ণ ও সমন্বয় করে থাকবে।

পরিশেষে বলতে চাই, সকল সুবিধাবঞ্চিত ও পথশিশুর কল্যাণে প্রয়োজন সরকারীবেসরকারী সম্মিলিত উদ্যোগ, সক্রিয় অংশগ্রহণ ও বাস্তবসম্মত পরিকল্পনা। তবেই বাংলাদেশ একদিন পথশিশু মুক্ত হয়ে বিশ্বব্যাপী রোল মডেল হিসেবে সুখ্যাতি অর্জনে সফল হবে।
6
Soft Skills and Personal Development / 11 Unproductive Habits You Want to Quit
« Last post by doha on July 20, 2019, 03:22:37 PM »
11 Unproductive Habits You Want to Quit

The reason I study productivity is because I’m an unproductive person. I truly am. If it wasn’t for my productivity system, I wouldn’t get anything done. I wouldn’t even write this article. But if you browse social media, all you see is super productive, healthy, and wealthy people.
Darius Foroux

Freepik

The reason I study productivity is because I’m an unproductive person. I truly am.

I sleep too much. I talk too much. I read too much. I listen to music all day. I watch movies. I buy gadgets that turn me into a zombie.

If it wasn’t for my productivity system, I wouldn’t get anything done. I wouldn’t even write this article. But if you browse social media, all you see is super productive, healthy, and wealthy people. Is that really the case?

I don’t know. I just know this: You can’t be productive 24/7. And a big part of being productive is about getting rid of unproductive habits we all have.

What follows is a list of eleven unproductive habits that I learned to do less, or eliminate. Do you have a few of these habits? Don’t worry, we’re all unproductive at times. But if you have five or more, it might be time to change.

Let’s start.

Overworking
Some days I can work 12 or 13 hours straight. I just take a break for exercising and eating. And I can keep that up for a few days. But after a few days, there always comes a crash. Big time. I struggle. I can’t get stuff done. I don’t even want to get stuff done. It’s not good. So I learned to be more calculated with how much I work. Like Ernest Hemingway, stop working at the height of your day.
Worrying
What if I go broke? What if I lose my job? What if she doesn’t love me? What if I get cancer? What if this plane crashes? What if I lose my sight? What if I…? You got your head so far in the sand like an ostrich that you can’t see how self-absorbed that way of thinking is. Here’s the thing: YOU’RE NOT GOING TO DIE RIGHT THIS SECOND. Get over yourself. Stop worrying. And do something useful.
Stubbornness
We deal with people all the time. Do you ever think: “Why should I listen to this guy?” Or: “What does she know?” I don’t know. Maybe more than you do? We just don’t know until we listen to others. When you’re always cynical and stubborn, you’re actually sabotaging yourself.
Ignoring Your Health
The way you feel determines the quality of your work. If you’re always tired and feel bad, how do you expect to do great work? When you’re in good shape and eat well, your work will reflect that.
Checking Things
What are you doing? We often say something like “I was just checking Instagram,” or something like that. But “checking” is not a useful activity. It might be a verb, but it’s not a real action. When I started blogging, I always checked my stats for no reason. Then I thought: What’s the outcome of checking? Nothing. So stop doing it.
Not Having Goals
Every time successful people say, “I don’t have goals,” I know they are full of shit. Who can be successful at anything without aiming for it. Don’t believe the stories. People just want to make you believe they became successful without effort. Set a goal, and then work towards it.
Saying Yes
Most people are afraid to say no. Maybe you don’t want to let people down. Maybe you are uncomfortable with the word no. I don’t know. Doesn’t matter, really. What matters is this: If you keep saying yes, you’re living someone else’s life. Think about it. Deep down, we all know that it’s true. We’re not even in control of our own time. Want to be in full control of your life? Say no to a million things and yes to a few things that matter.
Relying On Your Memory
Not writing down your thoughts, ideas, tasks, etc, is insane. Why? Because you’re wasting a lot of brain power when you rely on your memory. When you write everything down, you can use your brainpower for other things. Like solving problems. That’s actually useful and advances your career.
Neglecting Your Personal Education
“Woohoo! I finished college. Goodbye lame old books!” Who learns one thing and stops forever? I don’t even know why we have that idea planted in our brain. I always thought that learning stops when you get out of school. But the truth is: Your life stops when learning stops. Invest in yourself. Learn something. Read books. Get courses. Watch videos. Do it from home or go places. It doesn’t matter. Just learn new things. You’ll be more productive and more excited about life.
Complaining
We all know, and yet, we all do it. Complaining is one of those habits we always try to quit. But it never lasts. I’m no different. That’s why I always remind myself that complaining is a waste of effort. Just the awareness of that will help you to stop.
Lack Of Focus
Many successful people say that the ability to focus is the number one reason they’ve made it big. And it’s no surprise. The people who are all over the place never seem to get anywhere.
Often, people don’t understand why I focus on what not to do. The reason is that I like to learn by inverting. It’s the same strategy Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger used to become the most well-known investors of the world.

When you want to become successful or productive, look at how you become the opposite. Turn things upside down. That’s what we’ve done in this article too.

By simply avoiding these unproductive habits, you’ll automatically become more productive. When you combine this with a handful of productivity tips (see here), you have a reliable system.

And I always rely on my system to work smarter, better, happier, and effectively. It took me years to figure out that having a system is a good thing, and a few more years to create one, but it was worth it.

Because now, I get to be a productive person.

Not bad for an unproductive person, right?

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Darius Foroux
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This post originally appeared on Darius Foroux and was published November 8, 2018. This article is republished here with permission.
7
Soft Skills and Personal Development / Why Is the Human Brain so Efficient?
« Last post by doha on July 20, 2019, 03:16:22 PM »
Why Is the Human Brain so Efficient?
How massive parallelism lifts the brain’s performance above that of AI.
Nautilus|Liqun Luo

The brain is complex; in humans it consists of about 100 billion neurons, making on the order of 100 trillion connections. It is often compared with another complex system that has enormous problem-solving power: the digital computer. Both the brain and the computer contain a large number of elementary units—neurons and transistors, respectively—that are wired into complex circuits to process information conveyed by electrical signals. At a global level, the architectures of the brain and the computer resemble each other, consisting of largely separate circuits for input, output, central processing, and memory.1

Which has more problem-solving power—the brain or the computer? Given the rapid advances in computer technology in the past decades, you might think that the computer has the edge. Indeed, computers have been built and programmed to defeat human masters in complex games, such as chess in the 1990s and recently Go, as well as encyclopedic knowledge contests, such as the TV show Jeopardy! As of this writing, however, humans triumph over computers in numerous real-world tasks—ranging from identifying a bicycle or a particular pedestrian on a crowded city street to reaching for a cup of tea and moving it smoothly to one’s lips—let alone conceptualization and creativity.

So why is the computer good at certain tasks whereas the brain is better at others? Comparing the computer and the brain has been instructive to both computer engineers and neuroscientists. This comparison started at the dawn of the modern computer era, in a small but profound book entitled The Computer and the Brain, by John von Neumann, a polymath who in the 1940s pioneered the design of a computer architecture that is still the basis of most modern computers today.2 Let’s look at some of these comparisons in numbers (Table 1).


The computer also has huge advantages over the brain in the precision of basic operations. The computer can represent quantities (numbers) with any desired precision according to the bits (binary digits, or 0s and 1s) assigned to each number. For instance, a 32-bit number has a precision of 1 in 232 or 4.2 billion. Empirical evidence suggests that most quantities in the nervous system (for instance, the firing frequency of neurons, which is often used to represent the intensity of stimuli) have variability of a few percent due to biological noise, or a precision of 1 in 100 at best, which is millionsfold worse than a computer.5

A pro tennis player can follow the trajectory of a ball served at a speed up to 160 mph.

The calculations performed by the brain, however, are neither slow nor imprecise. For example, a professional tennis player can follow the trajectory of a tennis ball after it is served at a speed as high as 160 miles per hour, move to the optimal spot on the court, position his or her arm, and swing the racket to return the ball in the opponent’s court, all within a few hundred milliseconds. Moreover, the brain can accomplish all these tasks (with the help of the body it controls) with power consumption about tenfold less than a personal computer. How does the brain achieve that? An important difference between the computer and the brain is the mode by which information is processed within each system. Computer tasks are performed largely in serial steps. This can be seen by the way engineers program computers by creating a sequential flow of instructions. For this sequential cascade of operations, high precision is necessary at each step, as errors accumulate and amplify in successive steps. The brain also uses serial steps for information processing. In the tennis return example, information flows from the eye to the brain and then to the spinal cord to control muscle contraction in the legs, trunk, arms, and wrist.

But the brain also employs massively parallel processing, taking advantage of the large number of neurons and large number of connections each neuron makes. For instance, the moving tennis ball activates many cells in the retina called photoreceptors, whose job is to convert light into electrical signals. These signals are then transmitted to many different kinds of neurons in the retina in parallel. By the time signals originating in the photoreceptor cells have passed through two to three synaptic connections in the retina, information regarding the location, direction, and speed of the ball has been extracted by parallel neuronal circuits and is transmitted in parallel to the brain. Likewise, the motor cortex (part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for volitional motor control) sends commands in parallel to control muscle contraction in the legs, the trunk, the arms, and the wrist, such that the body and the arms are simultaneously well positioned to receiving the incoming ball.

This massively parallel strategy is possible because each neuron collects inputs from and sends output to many other neurons—on the order of 1,000 on average for both input and output for a mammalian neuron. (By contrast, each transistor has only three nodes for input and output all together.) Information from a single neuron can be delivered to many parallel downstream pathways. At the same time, many neurons that process the same information can pool their inputs to the same downstream neuron. This latter property is particularly useful for enhancing the precision of information processing. For example, information represented by an individual neuron may be noisy (say, with a precision of 1 in 100). By taking the average of input from 100 neurons carrying the same information, the common downstream partner neuron can represent the information with much higher precision (about 1 in 1,000 in this case).6

The computer and the brain also have similarities and differences in the signaling mode of their elementary units. The transistor employs digital signaling, which uses discrete values (0s and 1s) to represent information. The spike in neuronal axons is also a digital signal since the neuron either fires or does not fire a spike at any given time, and when it fires, all spikes are approximately the same size and shape; this property contributes to reliable long-distance spike propagation. However, neurons also utilize analog signaling, which uses continuous values to represent information. Some neurons (like most neurons in our retina) are nonspiking, and their output is transmitted by graded electrical signals (which, unlike spikes, can vary continuously in size) that can transmit more information than can spikes. The receiving end of neurons (reception typically occurs in the dendrites) also uses analog signaling to integrate up to thousands of inputs, enabling the dendrites to perform complex computations.7

Your brain is 10 million times slower than a computer.

Another salient property of the brain, which is clearly at play in the return of service example from tennis, is that the connection strengths between neurons can be modified in response to activity and experience—a process that is widely believed by neuroscientists to be the basis for learning and memory. Repetitive training enables the neuronal circuits to become better configured for the tasks being performed, resulting in greatly improved speed and precision.

Over the past decades, engineers have taken inspiration from the brain to improve computer design. The principles of parallel processing and use-dependent modification of connection strength have both been incorporated into modern computers. For example, increased parallelism, such as the use of multiple processors (cores) in a single computer, is a current trend in computer design. As another example, “deep learning” in the discipline of machine learning and artificial intelligence, which has enjoyed great success in recent years and accounts for rapid advances in object and speech recognition in computers and mobile devices, was inspired by findings of the mammalian visual system.8 As in the mammalian visual system, deep learning employs multiple layers to represent increasingly abstract features (e.g., of visual object or speech), and the weights of connections between different layers are adjusted through learning rather than designed by engineers. These recent advances have expanded the repertoire of tasks the computer is capable of performing. Still, the brain has superior flexibility, generalizability, and learning capability than the state-of-the-art computer. As neuroscientists uncover more secrets about the brain (increasingly aided by the use of computers), engineers can take more inspiration from the working of the brain to further improve the architecture and performance of computers. Whichever emerges as the winner for particular tasks, these interdisciplinary cross-fertilizations will undoubtedly advance both neuroscience and computer engineering.

Liqun Luo is a professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and professor, by courtesy, of neurobiology, at Stanford University.

The author wishes to thank Ethan Richman and Jing Xiong for critiques and David Linden for expert editing.

By Liqun Luo, as published in Think Tank: Forty Scientists Explore the Biological Roots of Human Experience, edited by David J. Linden, and published by Yale University Press.

Footnotes

1. This essay was adapted from a section in the introductory chapter of Luo, L. Principles of Neurobiology (Garland Science, New York, NY, 2015), with permission.

2. von Neumann, J. The Computer and the Brain (Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2012), 3rd ed.

3. Patterson, D.A. & Hennessy, J.L. Computer Organization and Design (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2012), 4th ed.

4. The assumption here is that arithmetic operations must convert inputs into outputs, so the speed is limited by basic operations of neuronal communication such as action potentials and synaptic transmission. There are exceptions to these limitations. For example, nonspiking neurons with electrical synapses (connections between neurons without the use of chemical neurotransmitters) can in principle transmit information faster than the approximately one millisecond limit; so can events occurring locally in dendrites.

5. Noise can reflect the fact that many neurobiological processes, such as neurotransmitter release, are probabilistic. For example, the same neuron may not produce identical spike patterns in response to identical stimuli in repeated trials.

6. Suppose that the standard deviation of mean (σmean) for each input approximates noise (it reflects how wide the distribution is, in the same unit as the mean). For the average of n independent inputs, the expected standard deviation of means is σmean = σ / √•n. In our example, σ = 0.01, and n = 100; thus σmean = 0.001.

7. For example, dendrites can act as coincidence detectors to sum near synchronous excitatory input from many different upstream neurons. They can also subtract inhibitory input from excitatory input. The presence of voltage-gated ion channels in certain dendrites enables them to exhibit “nonlinear” properties, such as amplification of electrical signals beyond simple addition.

8. LeCun, Y. Bengio, Y., & Hinton, G. Deep learning. Nature 521, 436–444 (2015).

Lead Art Credits: Photo 12 / Contributor / Getty Images; Wikipedia
8
The Lost Art of Concentration: Being Distracted in a Digital World

We check our phones every 12 minutes, often just after waking up. Always-on behavior is harmful to long-term mental health, and we need to learn to the hit the pause button.
The Guardian
|
Harriet Griffey
GettyImages-844226650.jpg
Daren Woodward/Getty Images

It is difficult to imagine life before our personal and professional worlds were so dominated and “switched on” via smartphones and the other devices that make us accessible and, crucially, so easily distractible and interruptible every second of the day. This constant fragmentation of our time and concentration has become the new normal, to which we have adapted with ease, but there is a downside: more and more experts are telling us that these interruptions and distractions have eroded our ability to concentrate.

We have known for a long time that repeated interruptions affect concentration. In 2005, research carried out by Dr Glenn Wilson at London’s Institute of Psychiatry found that persistent interruptions and distractions at work had a profound effect. Those distracted by emails and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ, twice that found in studies on the impact of smoking marijuana. More than half of the 1,100 participants said they always responded to an email immediately or as soon as possible, while 21% admitted they would interrupt a meeting to do so. Constant interruptions can have the same effect as the loss of a night’s sleep.

Nicholas Carr picked up on this again in an article in the Atlantic in 2008, before going on to publish his book The Shallows two years later. “Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy,” he wrote. “My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case any more. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.”

The impact of interruptions on individual productivity can also be catastrophic. In 2002, it was reported that, on average, we experience an interruption every eight minutes or about seven or eight per hour. In an eight-hour day, that is about 60 interruptions. The average interruption takes about five minutes, so that is about five hours out of eight. And if it takes around 15 minutes to resume the interrupted activity at a good level of concentration, this means that we are never concentrating very well.

In August 2018, research from the UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom, reported that people check their smartphones on average every 12 minutes during their waking hours, with 71% saying they never turn their phone off and 40% saying they check them within five minutes of waking. Both Facebook and Instagram announced they were developing new tools designed to limit usage in response to claims that excessive social media use can have a negative impact on mental health.

Continuous partial attention – or CPA – was a phrase coined by the ex-Apple and Microsoft consultant Linda Stone. By adopting an always-on, anywhere, anytime, any place behaviour, we exist in a constant state of alertness that scans the world but never really gives our full attention to anything. In the short term, we adapt well to these demands, but in the long term the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol create a physiological hyper-alert state that is always scanning for stimuli, provoking a sense of addiction temporarily assuaged by checking in.

Myth of multitasking
With our heavy use of digital media, it could be said that we have taken multitasking to new heights, but we’re not actually multitasking; rather, we are switching rapidly between different activities. Adrenaline and cortisol are designed to support us through bursts of intense activity, but in the long term cortisol can knock out the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which help us feel calm and happy, affecting our sleep and heart rate and making us feel jittery.

It would seem then that this physiological adaptation, fostered by our behaviour, is a predominant reason for the poor concentration so many people report. The fact that we are the cause of this is, paradoxically, good news since it hands back to us the potential to change our behaviour and reclaim the brain function and cognitive health that’s been disrupted by our digitally enhanced lives. And this may even be more important than just improving our levels of concentration. Constant, high levels of circulating stress hormones have an inflammatory and detrimental affect on brain cells, suggests the psychiatrist Edward Bullmore, who has written about the link between inflammation and depression in his latest book, The Inflamed Mind. Depression, along with anxiety, is a known factor in knocking out concentration.

Put simply, better concentration makes life easier and less stressful and we will be more productive. To make this change means reflecting on what we are doing to sabotage personal concentration, and then implementing steps towards behavioural change that will improve our chances of concentrating better. This means deliberately reducing distractions and being more self-disciplined about our use of social media, which are increasingly urgent for the sake of our cognitive and mental health.

It takes about three weeks for a repeating behaviour to form a habit, says Jeremy Dean, a psychologist and the author of Making Habits, Breaking Habits. Getting into a new habit will not happen overnight and adaptation can be incremental. Start by switching off smartphone alerts, or taking social media apps off your phone, then switching off the device for increasingly long periods.

Practise concentration by finding things to do that specifically engage you for a period of time to the exclusion of everything else. What is noticeable is that you cannot just go from a state of distraction to one of concentration, in the same way that most of us cannot fall asleep the minute our head hits the pillow. It takes a bit of time and, with practice, becomes easier to accomplish.

The ‘five more’ rule
This is a simple way of learning to concentrate better. It goes like this: whenever you feel like quitting – just do five more – five more minutes, five more exercises, five more pages – which will extend your focus. The rule pushes you just beyond the point of frustration and helps build mental concentration. It’s a form of training as well as being a way of getting something accomplished.

Sitting still would seem an easy thing to achieve. But it is harder than it sounds. It is akin to meditation, which can be a useful way to improve concentration. In this case, however, just get in to a comfortable, supported position and sit still and do nothing for five minutes. Use it as a pause between activities. Of course, if you already practise meditation, combine this with breathing for a quick “time out”.

Meditation and focus
Switching off from both external and internal distractions does not come easily. Learning how to be more mindful, practising mindfulness or meditation, can all help facilitate greater concentration, not least because feeling calmer restores equilibrium and focus.

Most of us breathe poorly: we tend to over-breathe, taking three or four breaths using only the upper part of our lung capacity, when one good breath using the lungs more completely would serve us better. This shallow breathing is very tiring, not only because we expend unnecessary muscular energy, but because we reduce our oxygen intake per breath.

In its extreme form, over-breathing becomes hyperventilation, which can trigger panic attacks. In all mindfulness or meditation practice, breathing is key. So it’s wise to learn good techniques first. A daily practice, starting with 10 minutes and building on it, means that the ability to take some restorative “time out” will also be available to you:

Lie comfortably on the floor, knees bent, chin tucked in – what Alexander Technique teachers call the “constructive rest position” – or sit upright in a chair, legs uncrossed, feet flat on the floor.

Consciously relax your neck and drop your shoulders, rest your arms by your sides with your palms turned upwards.

Breathe long and gently through your nose, into your belly until you see it gently rise, for a slow count of five.

Pause, and hold that breath for a count of five, then gently exhale through your mouth for another count of five.

While doing this, try to clear your mind of all other thoughts, or if this is difficult close your eyes and visualise a pebble dropping into a pool of water and gently sinking down.

Repeat this breathing cycle 10 times; then see how your regular breathing adjusts.

You can also use this breathing technique at any time you feel tense or stressed, or as the basis of any meditation.

We all need to take time out, so set a timer to signal a break, or use an app such as Calm.com. Or you can just play a favourite music track, knowing that it will give you a set amount of time in which to press pause and do nothing.

Another effective technique for boosting concentration is counting backwards. Counting backwards in sevens from 1,000 might sound like an exercise in exasperation, but it does require you to concentrate very hard: try it. It requires persistence and the use of different skills, which for some may include visualising the numbers as you count. Whatever it takes, keep at it for long enough to completely focus and you’ll also have the added bonus of finding that you have, temporarily, cleared your head of everything else for a few minutes.

Similarly, spelling words backwards is a good way to focus: start with words that are easy: dog, box, cup, and then build up to longer words – including nouns and more abstract words – such as cushion, blonde, effort, number – increasing the length and complexity of the word. Again, this is an exercise that can be built on.

Another way to focus is to sit in a comfortable position and find a spot on the wall to stare at. This works best when you have no conscious association with it to distract you – so, a black spot about two inches in diameter at eye level works well. Focus all your attention on this for around three minutes to start with (you can set a timer if this helps) and let any thoughts that arise drift away, constantly returning your focus to the spot.

Anyone familiar with meditation will recognise this technique. If it helps to notice your breath, slow and steady this too, but always make your visual focus on the spot the priority. Practiced regularly, this can become so familiar it creates a resource on which to draw, enabling you to consciously refocus at will, even without the visual prompt.

Watching the clock
An old-fashioned clock face with hands and a second hand is needed for this. Starting with the second hand at the 12, focus intently on its progress around the clock face without allowing any distracting thoughts to intervene. Every time your concentration is interrupted by a stray thought, wait until the second hand is at the 12 again, and start again. It’s harder than it sounds and can feel very frustrating initially, but once the ability is learnt it’s easy to access again and again, whenever you need to create a more concentrated state of mind.

We access so much information through what we see, but often we are not particularly observant about what we are looking at, leaving us with just an impression or feeling about what we’ve seen. In an effort to improve concentration skills, it’s worth considering how looking at and then visualising something, can reinforce concentration. Start by paying more attention, whether this is looking at a picture in an art gallery, or taking a bus ride, or just enjoying the scenery from a window. You don’t have to commit an exact graphic image to memory, but engage with it, notice details, reflect on it and, within a short time, you will be able to close your eyes and visualise it. There is no right or wrong way to do this, it’s just an opportunity to practise focus and improve concentration.

There’s a huge difference between hearing and listening. Learning to listen well starts quite self-consciously but will also become a useful habit. You can use music to practise this, the length of a track giving you between three to five minutes (or longer) on which to focus. Really listen to the nuances of the music, its notes, cadences, instruments used, lyrics. Music is often just a background noise but real, complicated musical notation can be more than just pleasurable, it can be a real boon to helping relearn concentration skills.

Physical exercise
For any extended period of exercise – whether it be yoga, playing a team sport or dancing – the engagement of the brain with the body is also an exercise in concentration. Regular exercise also activates the body and this is beneficial for the brain.

A Dutch study of schoolchildren published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport in 2016 showed that interspersing lessons with a 20-minute stretch of aerobic exercise measurably improved attention spans in the children that participated. Another 2014 study from the American Academy of Paediatrics, on the benefits of exercise in 7 to 9-year-olds, not only found that the children’s physical health improved as they got fitter, but also their brain function, cognitive performance and executive control.

Sleep
Poor sleep and being chronically under-slept affects concentration, while also reinforcing those stress hormones to compensate, making it a bit of a vicious circle. Improving sleep cannot happen overnight, particularly if it is a chronic problem, but taking measures to improve this will yield results over a period of weeks, rather than days.

One place to start is clearing your bedroom of TVs, computers and other technology. Although any type of light can inhibit sleep, research has shown that light towards the blue end of the spectrum is especially effective at keeping you awake because it stimulates the retina in the eye and inhibits the secretion of melatonin from the pineal gland in the brain.

Computer screens, tablets, smartphones, flat-screen TVs and LED lighting all emit large amounts of blue light, and it is important to avoid these before trying to sleep. Around 80% of people routinely use these devices running up to bedtime, and among 18 to 24-year-olds this figure increases to 91%, according to research carried out by Prof Richard Wiseman.

Amber-tinted glasses can cut out glare, and it is also possible to fit screens with commercially produced blue-light blocking filters. Another solution, of course, is to avoid all electronic devices before bed in order to help avoid insomnia and improve sleep.

Reading for pleasure
One thing that many people who feel they have lost the ability to concentrate mention is that reading a book for pleasure no longer works for them. We have got so used to skim reading for fast access to information that the demand of a more sophisticated vocabulary, a complex plot structure or a novel’s length can be difficult to engage with. Like anything, single-minded attention may need relearning in order to enjoy reading for pleasure again, but close reading in itself can be a route to better concentration. To help that, read from an actual book, not a screen: screens are too reminiscent of skim reading and just turning pages will slow your pace. Read for long enough to engage your interest, at least 30 minutes: engagement in content takes time, but will help you read for longer.

Digital apps
Somewhat ironically, digital apps may have their place in monitoring, managing or restricting digital time, but bear in mind that they still keep you connected to digital devices. Better perhaps to wean yourself away from excessive digital use by doing something alternative: read a book, go to a movie (where turning off phones is required), take a walk, eat a meal without checking … basically restore some sort of self-discipline through the benefit of alternate activities.

But if you must turn to a digital solution to solve a digital problem, try these: track usage with Moment; access Facebook limiter; go Cold Turkey; try Stay On Task; use the App detox blocker; or break phone addiction with Space.

• Harriet Griffey is the author of The Art Of Concentration, published by Pan Macmillan
9
Information Technology / Taking Selfies Destroys Your Confidence and Raises Anxiety
« Last post by doha on July 20, 2019, 03:08:29 PM »
Taking Selfies Destroys Your Confidence and Raises Anxiety

Taking Selfies Destroys Your Confidence and Raises Anxiety, Study Shows. Why Are You Still Doing It?
Some people do it 8 times a day or more.

Have you taken a selfie today, or will you by the time you go to bed? The answer is very likely yes. Google reports that its Android devices take 93 million selfies per day, and in one poll, 18-to-24-year-olds reported that every third photo they take is a selfie. Some subjects in one study reported taking more than eight selfies a day. For many of us, snapping and then posting selfies has become a way of life.

The only problem with this is that selfies are bad for our emotional health. Research has long shown a connection between social media use and negative emotions, but it wasn't necessarily clear exactly how this bad effect happened. In a fascinating new experiment, researchers got to see the dynamic in action.

A group of 113 Canadian women between the ages of 16 and 29 volunteered for the experiment, in which each was given an iPad and taken to a private space. Some women were told to take a single selfie and post it to their social media account on either Facebook or Instagram. Some were also told to post a selfie to social media, but were allowed to take several shots and were given image editing software so they could improve their favorite photo before they posted it. And some, the control group, were simply given a travel article to read.

How does taking selfies make us feel?
Before and after the experiment, the women were evaluated on their mood and how they felt about themselves, completing several assessment tests. As expected, given the previous research, women who could take and post only one selfie experienced a significant decrease in confidence, and in feelings of attractiveness, and a significant increase in anxiety, compared to the control group. Researchers were curious as to whether being able to select a favorite photo, and then touch it up to make it even better would help the women feel better about themselves. But no, the women who could select and then improve their selfie still experienced the same increase in anxiety and decrease in feeling attractive as those who had only one unretouched image to choose from. Interestingly, though, the retouched selfie group did experience less of a loss of confidence than the unretouched group. And, researchers noted, there was no positive psychological effect whatsoever to posting the selfies, even those that had been carefully selected and touched up.

In other words, all those selfies you're taking? Even the ones that you take and re-take until they're just right, and add filters or other enhancements to make them look really great? The very best you can hope for from them is that they'll increase your anxiety and make you feel uglier, but not decrease your confidence the way lesser images would.

So why, exactly, are you taking so many selfies? Posting them makes you feel worse, not better. And you won't disappoint anyone if you stop. A recent survey showed that most Americans--even those who take selfies themselves--dislike it when others post them.


Next time you're in a gorgeous place, or at an amazing event, and you feel you just have to post a selfie, try to focus both your smartphone and your attention at the interesting things behind you rather than how you yourself look. Or better yet, flip the camera around and just take a picture of what's in front of you. Your friends will be glad you did, and you'll feel better too.

PUBLISHED ON: MAY 31, 2019
10
Health / 5 Daily Habits Can Add 12 to 14 Years to Your Life
« Last post by doha on July 20, 2019, 03:04:29 PM »
5 Daily Habits Can Add 12 to 14 Years to Your Life
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Time is the most precious commodity of all. So start now.
By Jeff HadenContributing editor, Inc.

You give your all to building your business, and you're in it for the long haul: Working hard to serve your customers and create a future for your employees. You make decisions and take actions today that will pay off in the years to come.

That premise should extend to making sure you take do things to take care of yourself -- physically and mentally -- as you build your business.

Which should be easy due to advances in science, medicine, and nutrition, and the availability of quality healthcare.

Except, if you live in the U.S., it's not.  We rank 43rd out of 195 countries in terms of average life expectancy, at just over 76 years. (Monaco ranks number one, with Japan close behind.)

But those results indicate the aggregate. What about you?

On an individual level, there's good news: A 34-year Harvard University study of over 123,000 people found adopting 5 simple habits can dramatically increase your lifespan by as much as an extra 14 years for women and 12 years for men.

And it gets better: Just-released research shows that adopting 4 out of 5 of those habits (swapping in late-life cognitive activities for bodyweight) will also decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer's by 60 percent compared to people who follow none or one.

A similar study shows that the risk of dementia and overall cognitive decline decreases by over 30 percent.

While it might sound hard to believe it's possible to live that much longer than average, think about it: The top 5 factors of longevity are life-style related health issues.

Like tobacco and alcohol. Obesity. High blood pressure. Elevated blood sugar. The people who met the 5 criteria were over 80 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, and over 60 percent less likely to die from cancer, than those who did not meet the 5 criteria.

And here's the best part: All 5 factors totally, or at least partially, within our control.

Here are the 5 habits for living a longer life:

Don't smoke. Or vape. Or chew. Or dip.
Drink in moderation. No more than one glass of wine for women, two for men.
Exercise regularly. On average, 30 minutes per day.
Eat healthy. Think a "Mediterranean" diet: Plenty of vegetables, poultry and fish for protein, grains and nuts... with a limited amount of red meat and fried food.
Maintain a healthy bodyweight. Generally speaking, a BMI that falls between 18.5 and 25.
Compared to people who don't meet any of those criteria, do those 5 things... and if you're a woman your life expectancy will increase from 79 to 93.1 years old. If you're a man, from 75.5 to 87.6 years old.

How's that for actions that result in a major payoff?

The list for avoiding Alzheimer's and dementia is similar:

Don't smoke.
Drink in moderation.
Exercise for at least 150 minutes a week.
Consume a "brain supporting diet" (pretty much a "Mediterranean" diet).
Engage in late-life cognitive activities.
(Cognitive activities makes the list while bodyweight doesn't... but maybe that's because eating well and exercising regularly should result in a healthier bodyweight.)

Do the above and you're 60 percent less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's. And, of course, you'll live longer. Win-win.

As long as you take action.

Starting today.

How to Get Started

Let's deal with the big one first: Smoking. Studies show that smoking will cause you to die seven years sooner than people who don't.  So if you smoke, start there: Because no matter how much you exercise, no matter how awesome your diet... smoking can kill you.

And increase your rate of cognitive decline.

Then focus on diet and exercise. If you're overweight, start eating healthier. If you're out of shape, start exercising more. Eating well and exercising regularly actually hits 3 items on the list, since improving your diet and exercising more should naturally reduce your percentage of body fat.

As for alcohol, the key is to focus on the aggregate. You can exceed the guidelines occasionally; the goal is to average the equivalent of one glass of wine a day if you're a woman, two if you're a man.

Of course that's true with everything on the list. If you didn't exercise the last two days, no problem: Just make sure you work out today. If you blew your diet last night, no problem: Just get back on track today.

And keep in mind that even if you don't always meet all five criteria, that's also okay. Any lifestyle improvements you make will incrementally improve your life expectancy.

The more the merrier, of course... but every improvement is a good thing.

And as for late-life cognitive activities? If you're an entrepreneur, you've got that covered: The mental and emotional challenges you face on a daily basis will definitely keep your mind stimulated.

Which is yet another reason why it's great to be an entrepreneur.

PUBLISHED ON: JUL 18, 2019
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