Saturday, 15 February 2014

6 short-cuts in consciousness that are ruining your life

Your consciousness is your operating system. It is the information that you use to interpret the data that you receive from your senses. It is the hologram of the world that you create in your head. It is you in essence....

.... and it's wrong.

But knowing the common reasons how and why we are wrong is a good step towards improving our lives generally. Here - in no particular order - are my top 6 reasons why many of us are architects of our own misery.

1.  Emotional conclusions
When someone gets hurt, it is easy to feel guilty if we were not around to help them. This feeling of guilt is perfectly natural, but the short cut is to believe that because we feel guilty, then we must BE guilty. This trait can cause us to hang on to all kinds of regret for decades.

2.  Memory filtering or bias
There are people who are very good at remembering all of the time that they failed, but ignore all of the times that they were successful. These people find it hard to do anything ambitious or positive, choosing to avoid risk instead. 

3.  Jumping to conclusions
Making huge leaps of logic are a classic mental short-cut. For instance someone who feels ill may think that if they call in sick, the boss will fire them and they won't get another job and they will end up on the street. 

4.  Thinking in extremes
You don't just want a drink. No, it has to be triple sweet, skinny, mocha, choco, caramel bucket of latte with nutmeg on the top. There is nothing wrong with wanting the best every now and then. But if you simply must be the first, or have the very best or the biggest of everything, you are going to live a miserable and unfulfilled life.

5.  Generalising
"All women are...", "All men are...", "I'm always......", "Life is always...." It's wrong. Need I say any more?

6.  Labelling
Giving people labels is a sure sign that you also label yourself. The media is very good at using labels to imply opinion. The Taliban were known as 'freedom fighters' when Russia occupied Afghanistan. Now, the west are occupying, they are called "Insurgents" or simply "Terrorists". Are you giving yourself or others labels? Are you talking to yourself in a positive manner? The labels you use will give you a clue.

Pay attention to your thoughts. Think about the generalisations you make, the conclusions you jump to, the labels you use, your inflated needs and the bias your memory holds. Because without you paying your consciousness any attention, IT may be running away with YOU. And, the outcomes from such a mind are rarely good for you.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Have we got it wrong about water?

There is a very famous health tip to drink at least 8 glasses of water (or two litres) a day. But is it right? Do we really need that kind of volume of water?

Last year, a group of Australian scientists managed to prove that hydration was less important for performance than people previously believed. During exercise some athletes were given high fluid replenishment. Others were given none or very little. But they did this by rehydrating athletes intravenously, so they could not possibly know how much they were getting. The results were staggering. Hydration had no affect on performance at all.

This experiment was on the back of some marathon runners and members of the military over hydrating and getting hyponatremia - a condition where too much water reduces the amount of sodium in the body to dangerous levels. 

So is the 2 litres a day rule correct?


There are too many variables to tie your consumption down to an arbitrary amount. Your body will use more water when you exercise. You will need water if you are under stress or having to think hard. If you have a nice, easy day, you are likely to use far less water. Your food has variable amounts of water in it, depending on diet. 

Fruit and vegetables all have good amounts of water. Tea and coffee also have water in them, and also count towards rehydration. The climate also has significant affect on your need for water for temperature regulation. So making people stick to an arbitrary amount of water is not only impractical, but also possibly dangerous.

Funnily enough, your body has a brilliant system for measuring the levels of hydration - it's called your thirst. If you drink when thirsty, you will keep yourself in tip top health. This manic glugging of water was brought out by scientists who had proved that the body had started to dehydrate before people felt thirsty. Now recent discoveries are showing that the body can tolerate levels of dehydration without any dip in performance, and that it is very good at regulating itself through the sense of thirst.

The latest advice is to drink when you are thirsty - not out of habit or vanity.

So who really benefits from 2 litres of water consumption a day? 

The bottled water companies, that's who.