Monday, May 29, 2006

Health: Breaking the habit

There is a famous saying: Humans are creatures of habit. Maintaining health is part of human activity and hence is a habit. But there is also another famous saying Old habits die hard. The two sayings together indicate us potentials as well as traps. First saying indicates we can achieve things by habituating them and once done they are hard to break.

So for better health, we have to break a lot of habits like
  • Being lazy (eg. not workingout regularly)
  • No physical activity immediately after eating (eg. sitting comfortably after eating)
  • Underestimating calorie facts about food (eg. when nutrition facts are missing)
  • Being embarrased for looking at nutrition facts (eg. when buying or eating)
  • Being embarrased keeping track of your diet (eg. among friends)
  • Eating to reduce stress (eg. eating chips, nuts)
  • Eating when not needed (eg. not skipping dinner for an extravagant lunch)
  • Not considering snacks as a significant intake (eg. ignoring a pretzel/banana)
  • Qualifying food based on taste instead of nutrition facts (eg. Pepsi/Diet pepsi)
  • Not paying attention to popular warnings about health (eg. obesity/smoking)
  • Mishandling of achievements (eg. stopping workout for no reason because you know you can workout)

Though this post is intended to be a sequel to my health posts the power of habit is true for many aspects of life.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Relativity and the power of detachment

Recently I was reading about relativity. This gave me some added clarity of not only how Einstein was motivated but also how we can better understand our lives (which ofcourse undoubtedly are part of this universe).

Newton revolutionized thinking by making coinscious choices to hypothesize and test and thus came up with some very useful laws. That was a big step during those superstitious days. Einstein went a step further by proving that choice making is relative and there could be no reasoning for a preference towards a hypothesis. He showed that encounters (elements in space-time coordinates) are necessary and sufficient to describe the events in the universe. He builds up his arguments using a key fact that experience of the universe is very involved in describing universe. And later in time one of his very good friends showed that no formal system could be consistent or complete which implies there is no reasoning behind choosing a specific system.

Since all choices are equivalent atleast scientifically and universe is anyway precisely described in space-time coordinates we need not get attached to particular point in the universe, as things keep changing anyways with our measured time. Ofcourse this assumes rationality and that you want to be ahead (aware) of events happening in human society. Don't attach any transcendental values to systems, choices people make or preferences.

Eg. If you analyze labor standards in different countries there is no reasoning to say American standards are better or other standards are poor. If you define labor as the work people do labor for living (which is reasonable because all other work is made for extra it's not easy to standardize that kind of work) that is getting food and shelter then America by its wealth needs less of it and hence labor cost is high and hence standards.

So relativity besides its usual contribution gave us a paradigm of how to think in a world with changing experiences. Sprititually it is suggested not to attach to any wordly things. This can be suggestible even scientifically. Also you can feel the difference if you just live according to the situation not getting attached or stuck. Most importantly don't get attached to your feelings because they are the most flickering of all experiences.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Retaining relationships

We are all relatives of Adam and Eve and since 'relative' is a transitive relation we are all related to each other only to different extents. Human society and cultures weave amazing designs with relationships. There are plenty of aesthetic and real benefits from nurturing relationships. There are four key ingredients in a relationship - the objectivity and subjectivity of the two entities (people) involved. We have to be careful and rational in handling those four elements to retain or build any relationship.

A relationship it will last as long as both people involved in it find it useful in their own ways. Things get dull if their ways are almost identical and things get too messy if their ways are too different. But how do we know for sure how different two are and which is the best combination? Experimentation is inevitable and it is not wrong. Both the parties should be independent and be willing to participate in the experiments of building the relationship. There are protocols to be followed in the experiments. The protocols ensure safety simultaneously leaving some room for creativity. Different cultures have different protocols. So when we encounter change in cultures it might be a bit hard to decide which protocol to follow. But to keep things effective in life it's better to follow one's native cultures.

The usefulness of a relationship is usually both objective and subjective. The objective benefits can be easily made to be mutally win-win case by clearly and honestly applying logic. The unsurmountable problems come of course with little surprise from subjectivity. But we donot know how problematic subjectivity is until we build the relationship. If we find that subjectivity is too much of a problem then both parties can focus on objective part and limit their relationship to that level instead of ruining it. The best way not to ruin is stay away from the relationship. Don't overturn it making it bad to break it. That is just egoistic.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Inspiration, motivation and implementation

What does it take to work continuosly and be productive? Why is it hard not to get lost in unnecessary and useless activities? This might be because of inability to find inspiration. Inspiration triggers planning. Motivation is something that is completely situational sensitive and most necessary step for implementation. Each of the three phases are required for achievements or success. Implementation being the easiest and lowest level of effort hierarchy.

First let's see how to hone ability to be inspired. Be aware that you are human being and part of a big community which is highly interdependent. The work you do for community is credited and rewarded and the better you use your energy for the work the better are the rewards. Bottom line is be rational. Read and learn about great people to find inspiration. It takes time and lot of effort to be inspired.

Motivation is situational and hence we must be careful that we make proper choices to be in right situations whenever we can. Try to see situations with positive outlook and don't look at the world as completely adversarial. If you feel you are in a bad situation then realize early that the adversarial flavors of situations are only to train you to face tougher situations more effectively. After watching a very well done movie BLACK I feel that we must be very fortunate to be normal.

Once inspired and motivated implementation should be ruthless and is relatively not hard. But it is very easy to screw it up if one becomes unduely complacent.

I started this post on May 9, 06 but finished on May 11, 06 after watching BLACK.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Learning from losing

Recently there have been posts about rejection on Luca's and Lance's blog and an extraordinary comment by Oded. I was really impressed by the insight brought out by Oded.

His insight actually teaches a lesson of how to learn better from any kind of failure. We must strive for clear and real understanding of the situation and that gives us energy to courageously face it and cope up with it instead of letting it take us over. Many people think this kind of analysis is losers' attitude and to be practical we don't need any such waste of time. It is true that such an analysis is usually triggered when one is in loser's state but such effort of getting out of that state is infact one of the greatest applications of human mind. Infact such an analysis is actually a precursor to start being practical. Some people don't need these precursors but there's nothing bad about needing it. Afterall nobody is completely powerful. The absolute greatness is in ability to survive through odds. Ofcourse it's irrational to consciously choose to be in odds unnecessarily.

There is a thin line between learning from failures and justifying failures. We must be careful with that. We learn the difference as we mature.

Changed title on May 9, 06. 9:47PM US EST.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Health: King of nutrition

As a continuation to my health tips, I want to talk and point to benefits of Protein the King of nutrition.

Eating smart is one of the very important things to do in maintaining good health. It is very suprising because to be good these days, we have to do pretty much any thing smart:) Protein has tremendous benifits in helping weight management. I personally experienced the benefits. Your hunger remains controlled among many things. It is very hard for vegetarians to get good source of protein. By good I mean equivalent to that we get from non-vegetarian diet. But food technology research has progressed very nicely and we now have protein isolates that can be consumed, even gratifying your palate. Soy protein, whey protein, milk protein isolates come in delicious low calorie bars. Whey protein is also available as a powder form. Among all kinds of proteins WHEY protein seems to be the best. Here's a link to benefits from WHEY protein.

Intelligent Design and Evolution

Recently I watched about Intelligent Design and Evolution arguments because of this post on Luca Trevisan's In Theory and started a thought-thread that ran in the background of my mind and I summarize the results of that thread in this post.

People believing in ID say that people who are atheists are agnostics. They show some silly psychological tricks to prove their correctness. They argue that omniscience is not true and hence atheists cannot be true. Infact their argument can be applied against them. They are not omniscient either. What I saw was they were trying to induce fear (of violating ten commandments) to make people believe in ID. They don't seem to have better tools!?

Most scientists never claim about non-existence of GOD. In fact the closer one is to being a true scientist the more he refrains from any such claims. This is not being agnostic, it's simply being rational to be useful in life by bringing in real results for humans. Read my post about results.

If the goal of ID followers is to bring peace and harmony to world then they better be more philosophical or spiritual instead of trying to be scientific or trying to reduce the value of scientific efforts. True scientific effort is one of the finest services to humanity. It is well known in scientific community that proving negative results is much harder than positive results. If scientists cannot prove non-existence of GOD they won't claim it. They only shift focus to what they can do best with their ability to understand. This is why Theory of Evolution exists and there are lot of applications using this theory in coming up with practical heuristics for material design using nanotechnology, genetic algorithms etc. There might be some mysteries about evolution like this one on Scott's blog but this does not rule out Evolution. Ruling out things because of their mysteries without keeping in mind their major applications is not being very rational. It is important that these mysteries crop up which slowly but eventually will be resolved to give us progress.