Let Go of These Scarcity Mindset Myths

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Image: Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

Much of the productivity conversations being had today are split into two camps: The first is comprised of people like our tech overlords, who continue to preach that waking up at 4 a.m. to spend more hours at work and fewer doing anything else will make you a genius. The second is made of those, like much of the Lifehacker staff, who say hey, maybe we should take a step back here and enjoy our lives before we all burn out.

Underlying both of these, though, is the scarcity mindset. It’s human nature to believe there’s not enough time or money or resources to do and have everything we possibly want. And in many ways, that’s true. There simply isn’t enough time, money, what have you, to be the best parent, worker, friend, piano player, marathon runner, foodie, investor, etc. all at once. Yet we keep pushing ourselves, rationalizing that harder work means we’ll get more, and then we’ll finally be happy. Inevitably we’re still disappointed—we may have more, but we’ll never have “enough.”

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It’s a pervasive mindset. Khe Hy, the creator of RadReads, writes (emphasis his):

The day starts with “I didn’t sleep enough.” Then the rush to get the kids fed and out the door is accompanied by the nagging feeling that as parents we’re “not present enough.” Next, a commute skimming articles on our phones and listening to podcasts at double speed. There’s too much to learn and “not enough time.” A coworker gets that coveted promotion implying there’s “not enough opportunity.” Therefore the new addition to the house will have to wait another year, because obvi, there’s “never enough house.” And as bed time approaches, it’s a race towards Inbox Zero. And what’s the last thought before your head hits the pillow? “I didn’t do enough.”

But we can break the cycle and start thinking differently. Hy writes that breaking down the three myths of the scarcity mindset, as detailed in The Soul of Money by activist Lynne Twist, will help us “shift out of scarcity and into sufficiency.” And doesn’t that sound better.

Myth 1: There’s Not Enough

For many of us, Hy writes, the promotion of a colleague spells doom. It means that we must have messed up somewhere along the line, because there aren’t limitless promotions to be had.

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“In [our] minds, the slightest screwup (like a botched Powerpoint presentation) could spiral out of control and derail [our] careers,” he writes. “And in waiting for this imaginary shoe to drop [we’re] unable to savor [our] accomplishments, take risks and be present.”

But rather than viewing work and life as winner-take-all, we’d do better to remember it’s a long game. We may not have gotten a promotion this month, but so long as we continue doing good work, we’re likely to come out ahead.

“Situations can initially be perceived as zero-sum [but] are actually win-wins when you expand the horizon,” he writes.

Myth 2: More Is Better

Always wanting more is logical, Hy writes, when we’re worried that someday there might not be enough. But always wanting more—more house, more car, more tech toys, more money, of course, etc.—can also lead to greed and an unhappy life.

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How do you convince yourself what you have is enough, especially in a culture that valorizes “more more more?”

This is a common question in behavioral economics (we’ve covered some of the conversation here). How much money would it take for you to be happy? Do you really know? Hy writes,

Look at research from Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton who asked 2,000 millionaires two questions: How happy are you on a scale of 1-10? How much more money would it take you to get to a 10? It turns out that “all the way across the income spectrum, basically everyone says they’d need two or three times as much [to be perfectly happy].” (Source: The Reason Many Ultrarich People Aren’t Satisfied With Their Wealth)

Ok, obviously we could all do with a few more dollars in our bank account. And financial strain is a major problem in the U.S. But, Hy writes, rather than continually focusing on “more is better,” we’d do better to consider what brings real utility to our lives. Chances are it’s not a house that’s 150 square feet bigger than your cousin’s.

Myth 3: That’s the Way It’s Supposed to Be

This final myth gives us permission to believe the first two. This is the way it is, there’s no need to try to change anything or work on new habits. “It entrenches us into our spending habits and professional decisions and can leave us stuck and comfortably numb,” he writes.

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What’s the solution here? There’s no simple answer. It’s a shift in your mindset—working on believing that actually, this isn’t the way things need to be. You don’t need 100 subscriptions to different forms of media, you don’t need a new car when you’re used car is still running, you will get a bonus next year if you work a bit harder (or better yet, change jobs). Just because you spend a bit too much now, or aren’t where you want to be professionally, doesn’t mean you need to continue on the same path. There is enough for everyone.

“Accept, as [Lynne] Twist says, that you have agency in ‘the way we choose to act and what we choose to make of circumstances,’” writes Hy. “You have enough. You are enough.”

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Why Smart People Make Stupid Mistakes

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Screenshot: Walt Disney Pictures

As you know, when other people make stupid mistakes, it’s because they’re fundamentally incompetent. When you make a stupid mistake, it’s because of specific circumstances, and/or because someone else is fundamentally incompetent. Adam Robinson, chess master and Princeton Review founder, has identified seven factors that make smart people act stupidly. You’ll recognize some of them—being in a rush, for example—and learning about the others will help you avoid more stupid mistakes.

The seven factors, Robinson says in an interview on The Knowledge Project, are as follows:

  • Being outside of your circle of competence
  • Stress
  • Rushing or urgency
  • Fixation on an outcome
  • Information overload
  • Groupthink or concern for social cohesion
  • Being in the presence of an “authority” (including yourself)

In the interview, Robinson discusses some great examples, such as four different celebrity musicians leaving their million-dollar instruments in a cab or on a train. When you put your sweater on inside-out or delete the department’s most important spreadsheet, you are exactly like Yo-Yo Ma leaving his cello in a cab.

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If you catch yourself making the same mistake multiple times, it’s not because you’re stupid. It’s probably because you have a recurring case of one or more of these seven factors. To prevent the mistake, you need to address the root cause.

For example, the factor that most affects my post quality is time management. When I build a buffer of blog posts so I’m not working on them right up to the deadline, those posts go from very good to extremely very good.

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Maybe you’re getting into fender benders because you talk on the phone when you drive (information overload), and because you leave home too late (urgency); maybe you’re only behind on deadlines because you’re taking on too much work, because you don’t want to say no in meetings (social cohesion) because you’re worried about getting fired (stress). So the secret to better driving might be waking up earlier, and the secret to meeting deadlines might be shoring up your feeling of job security, by talking with your boss about expectations (or maybe by kidnapping and blackmailing them, 9 to 5 style, but probably not).

This is why Lifehacker is so obsessed with establishing good habits. Time management doesn’t just affect what gets done, but how well it gets done. Meditation lowers stress directly, but it also reduces the mistake-making that produces stress. Monotasking doesn’t just speed up a task, it increases your accuracy.

Addressing all seven causes isn’t a quick fix. But if you’ve tried quick fixes and they aren’t sticking, check for these seven causes. You might find more than one. Work on those causes, so no one mistakes you for one of those actually dumb people.

How Not to Be Stupid | Farnam Street

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IBM unveils its first commercial quantum computer

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At CES, IBM today announced its first commercial quantum computer for use outside of the lab. The 20-qubit system combines into a single package the quantum and classical computing parts it takes to use a machine like this for research and business applications. That package, the IBM Q system, is still huge, of course, but it includes everything a company would need to get started with its quantum computing experiments, including all the machinery necessary to cool the quantum computing hardware.

While IBM describes it as the first fully integrated universal quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use, it’s worth stressing that a 20-qubit machine is nowhere near powerful enough for most of the commercial applications that people envision for a quantum computer with more qubits — and qubits that are useful for more than 100 microseconds. It’s no surprise then, that IBM stresses that this is a first attempt and that the systems are “designed to one day tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical systems to handle.” Right now, we’re not quite there yet, but the company also notes that these systems are upgradable (and easy to maintain).

“The IBM Q System One is a major step forward in the commercialization of quantum computing,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of Hybrid Cloud and director of IBM Research. “This new system is critical in expanding quantum computing beyond the walls of the research lab as we work to develop practical quantum applications for business and science.”

More than anything, though, IBM seems to be proud of the design of the Q systems. In a move that harkens back to Cray’s supercomputers with its expensive couches, IBM worked with design studios Map Project Office and Universal Design Studio, as well Goppion, the company that has built, among other things, the display cases that house the U.K.’s crown jewels and the Mona Lisa. IBM clearly thinks of the Q system as a piece of art and, indeed, the final result is quite stunning. It’s a nine-foot-tall and nine-foot-wide airtight box, with the quantum computing chandelier hanging in the middle, with all of the parts neatly hidden away.

If you want to buy yourself a quantum computer, you’ll have to work with IBM, though. It won’t be available with free two-day shipping on Amazon anytime soon.

In related news, IBM also announced the IBM Q Network, a partnership with ExxonMobil and research labs like CERN and Fermilab that aims to build a community that brings together the business and research interests to explore use cases for quantum computing. The organizations that partner with IBM will get access to its quantum software and cloud-based quantum computing systems.

CES 2019 coverage - TechCrunch

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20-year-old who lives with his parents and ‘is not a computer expert’ confesses to data hack that snared Angela Merkel and hundreds of Germany’s elite

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hackers

  • A German student who lives with his parents, and received no formal computer training, admitted to hacking and releasing the personal details of hundreds of public figures like Chancellor Angela Merkel.
  • The 20-year-old stole photos, phone numbers, and credit card data from nearly 1,000 politicians and journalists, and published the information on Twitter last month.
  • Police arrested him on Sunday, but has since released him. He is now cooperating with investigators, the force said.
  • The student said he targeted people who made comments which had irritated him, police said.

A 20-year-old German student who lives with his parents, and who police say is not a computer expert, confessed to orchestrating a data hack that exposed personal details of Chancellor Angela Merkel and hundreds of Germany’s elite.

The unnamed man released the personal details — including photos, phone numbers, correspondence, and credit card data — of nearly 1,000 politicians and journalists on the now suspended @_0rbit Twitter account last month, Germany’s federal police, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) said on Tuesday.

"Police did not name the 20-year-old but said he lives with his parents and is not a computer expert," Reuters reported.

The student tweeted links and passwords to those accounts from December 1, which was illustrated as an Advent calendar in the countdown to Christmas.

0rbit hack germany

The hacker published two of Merkel’s email addresses and a tax code she previously used, CNBC reported. It’s not clear if these were her personal or public accounts.

Other people who were affected included German news broadcasters, comedians, and rappers, the BBC said.

The student admitted to acting alone during the huge data collection, and said he targeted the victims because they had made comments that annoyed him, German prosecutors said.

Senior prosecutor Georg Ungefuk said, according to Reuters: "The accused said his motivation had been irritation over public statements made by the politicians, journalists and public figures affected."

The student was arrested on Sunday at a house in Hesse, central Germany, on suspicion of spying and illegally publishing personal information.

He has since been released and is cooperating with investigators, Ungefuk said.

The 20-year-old has also helped authorities "on other matters of interest regarding cyber crime," Ungefuk said.

Germany Angela Merkel

News outlets including The New York Times and Forbes previously suggested that the country’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party would be blamed for the hack, as none of the party’s members had their personal details exposed.

Germany’s Social Democratic Party, whose members were hacked, also suggested that other countries could have been involved in the hack.

But the BKA said: "The investigations have so far provided no indication of the participation of a third party."

Police gave no indication about any future criminal charges. 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 7 science-backed ways to a happier and healthier 2019 that you can do the first week of the new year

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The Summer I Tried To Understand Why Sex Hurt

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When I think about my sexual prime, I remember the summer in New York when I was 25, in my first relationship, and on my back screaming as my gynecologist poked around my vagina with a Q-tip.

“Here?” she asked.

I screamed.

“Here?” she asked again.

Another scream.

My whole body was sweating. At one point I briefly blacked out from the pain.

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This was the summer I set out to understand why sex hurts.


It had always been this way: a raw, burning sensation any time anything entered my vagina. Even tampons were unbearable.

I never went to the doctor because I thought maybe I’d grow out of it. I genuinely thought I was cursed (this was not far-fetched in my family’s canon of Mexican folklore). I kept the pain and the curse to myself. I would fake orgasms to get sex over with; I would fake a “haha, yeah” to end conversations about sex quickly. But now that I was entering a promising relationship, I was anxious to solve my intimacy issues.

It turned out that the walls barring me from intimacy were the very literal walls of my vagina. My gynecologist diagnosed me with pelvic floor muscle spasm, a chronic condition where the pelvic floor muscles can become so tight that they are painful to the touch. Basically, the way one might get knots in their back, I get them in my vagina. (But also my back still; I contain multitudes.) I had never heard of this before my diagnosis, and the medical legitimization of my pain dumbfounded me. Even referring to my pain as chronic pain made me uncomfortable; surely my suffering was not bad enough to warrant the term. But as I worked over the course of two years to get better, I realized maybe it wasn’t all in my head.


Here is what treatment for chronic pain looks like: twice a week, a physical therapist’s fingers were inside of my vagina pressing against different trigger points. In no way did this turn me on, because it was painful, and because my physical therapist would go on about her husband’s New Jersey metal band.

At home, my nightstand accumulated a glob of paper towels wet with lube from my nightly dilator work, during which I had to insert dilators into my vagina at 45-degree angles to stretch out the vaginal wall. I often forgot to hide these from guests. I practiced diaphragmatic breathing while watching Keeping up with the Kardashians, certain that hot people must never have to put up with this. I was no longer able to cross my legs when I sat, and when I did, I couldn’t do it longer than 20 minutes. Worst of all, I had to buy a standing desk and, sadly, use it.

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My physical therapist suggested that I have more clitoral orgasms because they relax the vaginal muscles. But in her careful delicateness, she explained this by whispering: “You might want to think about getting a vibrator and turning on a movie, that, maybe has like, a racy scene.” It was basically just a recommendation to watch Top Gun, but I used it as an excuse to buy a new vibrator anyway.

I had to explain this to my new partner, even though I wasn’t sure how to explain it exactly because there isn’t enough medical research to fully articulate my condition. (As one study dryly noted, “pelvic pain is poorly understood.”) Understandably, he became too scared to touch me for fear of hurting me. I wondered if my vagina was ruining my relationship. My worry turned into anxiety that made my pelvic floor muscles clench up even more. The plateau in my new relationship became the plateau in my vagina’s healing. This, among other reasons, lead to a devastating breakup.

I addressed the vaginal plateau by getting Botox injections because, according to pelvic pain researchers, Botulinum toxin A has been shown effective for pelvic floor muscle spasm. Despite research and evidence, my insurance did not cover it. My vehement appeal was denied after my insurance company called it an “experimental treatment.” I cried—a lot; and I wondered what level of brujería hath wrought this.


I explain this not because I want sympathy, but because women’s pain doesn’t fit into the cultural conversation around sex, despite pelvic pain afflicting up to 32 percent of women worldwide. Women are inundated with messages that sex should be wonderful and fulfilling but there’s virtually no baseline information that it shouldn’t be painful, or that sex can be a lot of things besides penetration, or that it’s okay to talk about this. And while we are still in the “experimental treatment” stage of women’s sexual dysfunction, men’s erectile dysfunction is a $4.25 billion industry. The comparison is not exactly a one to one; pain is multifactorial and therefore hard to study, but then, maybe this is me, yet again, lessening my pain and making it accommodating.


The worst type of sexual rejection is the one that comes from your own body. With chronic pain, your nerves fire pain signals so frequently that the brain physically restructures and learns to expect pain. So any little thing, like a Q-tip or a tampon, becomes painful. Chronic pain perpetuates chronic pain, rewiring the brain to experience it as normal.

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I wonder how much of our collective consciousness has done the same thing; that maybe we are so accustomed to women’s pain that we just passively accept it as a way of being. Study after study has shown that while chronic pain is more common in women than in men, health care providers take it less seriously than men’s pain, sometimes even discounting it as fake. The very idea that our pain is insignificant is the experience of many women.

But it’s more than the pain during sex. It’s the pain of resorting to a fantastical explanation of a curse before I thought something was physically wrong. It’s the pain that I only saw my suffering as valid when it inconvenienced someone who wasn’t me.

I am lucky to have had specialized doctors who have helped me. I can finally have pain-free sex, as long as I keep doing my physical therapy and watching Top Gun.

Eliza Cossio is a Mexican American writer and comedian in Brooklyn. She currently writes for Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas on HBO.

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An Easy-To-Understand Guide To Popular Men’s Dress Shoe Styles

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Grey oxford shoes

iStockphoto

Learn the differing styles of men’s dress shoes and you’ll be that much more ahead of the game.

Men’s dress shoes make a statement about their owners.

Gucci Deal Sleds for the finance bros, Belgian loafers for suiting up, intentionally obnoxiously embroidered Stubbs and Wootton slippers for the charity party circuit set, the list goes on and on.

Your shoes should be as nice as you can afford because they’re definitive style statements that speak to your aesthetic and are a tenant of first impressions, but if you can’t shell out hundreds of dollars on new kicks it’s completely understandable.

Men’s Dress Shoes: The Sole of the Power Move

Life isn’t solely a series of business meetings and cocktail parties, it’s schlepping to work and the grocery store and emotional obligations to your family and friends and whatever Hinge match you’ve dredged up that week.

You have other priorities, but it doesn’t hurt to have some aspirational essentials and extras in your closet as an ego boost and definitive middle finger to the status quo.

No one needs to know you snagged a quality pair off eBay or grabbed brogues from your dad’s closet.

The magic of sophisticated shoes is that they can be resoled, or at least preventatively addressed, so they have a longer lifespan that helps justify their cost.

I’ve always been an advocate for buying essential wardrobe items you love and know you’ll wear for years to come rather than replacing “meh” shoes every year because the quality reflects the price.

There are tons of variations of men’s dress shoes, but the main thing to remember is there are two types of formal lace-up shoes – oxfords and derbies.

Oxfords are the fancier iteration because they have closed laces, and the derby is more casual with an open lace.

The more noticeable bells and whistles a shoe has, the less formal it becomes. For example, if you need an elevated shoe for a wedding, a patent black leather oxford is perfect because it’s the most minimal you can get.

The following is a short primer on dress shoe basics, but if you want to investigate further, I defer to David Coggins, author of Men and Style, on all things menswear related.

Formal Men’s Dress Shoe Styles

Oxford

If you need dress shoes for work, weddings and the like, a patent black leather option should be your first purchase—they’re sleek and complement dress pants well.

Defined by a low heel and closed laces, they can come with cap toe, wingtip, a whole cut or plain toe options.

Derby

businessman clothes shoes

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The derby is exceptionally similar to the Oxford save the lacing is on the outside of the shoes, making it look less formal.

You can snag them in just about every fabric and can dress up denim while Oxford should not.

Loafers

Pair of Stylish Expensive Modern Leather Black Penny Loafers Shoes

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The ultimate in versatility, it’s a damn shame if you don’t have a few loafer options in your closet.

A slip-on option that ranges from more formal to casual, loafers are offered in an array of styles including the penny, tassel, and ubiquitous Gucci loafer.

If you want to immediately dress up denim and a polo or button-down, throwing on loafers is the simplest solution.

Less Formal Men’s Dress Shoe Styles

Brogue

Black brogue Mens Dress Shoes

iStockphoto

A brogue is when there’s perforations or embossing of the shoes, usually found on the toe or sides.

Monk Strap

Among the easiest to spot, monk strap dress shoes sport either a single or double strap. The single strap being the slightly understated of the duo.

Monk strap dress shoes really hit their stride (I’m sorry) the past few years with the proliferation of #menswear bloggers littering fashion week.

Plain Toe

This means there’s no defined toecap, making it more streamlined and formal. The more minimal a shoe, the more formal it appears.

Cap Toe

A cap toe contains an extra piece of leather, adding an additional element and making the shoe less formal.

Wingtip

This iteration of a toecap extends to the shoe’s sides like, you guessed it, wings.

Whole cut

This is when the upper is cut from a single piece of leather. Make its patent leather, and you’ve got a stable formal shoe for everything from the office to your wedding.

Kiltie

A kiltie has a tongue of fringed leather, usually on a loafer or monk strap. This power move isn’t for the faint of heart, but it evokes old school cool.

Some of my favorite loafers have a kiltie fringe, and it’s an easy fix when you want to add personality to denim and a button-down.

Tassels

Like the kiltie, a tassel option evokes more of an old world, preppy feel but can dress up an otherwise nondescript loafer.

Slippers

Streamlined, slip-on options that go well with suits and are for more formal occasions when you want to evoke personality. Perfect for a cocktail party or a creative black tie wedding.

Sarah Solomon is a writer in NYC, and you can follow her on @sarahsolfails or her self-parody account, @urbanJAP. Pre-order her book Guac is Extra But So Am I: The Reluctant Adult’s Handbook here.

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