May 192016
 

I vaguely recall the environment of the boy’s locker room in my high school. I recall a number of posters which contained what might be called “motivational quotes.” Not surprisingly, they focused on athletic performance and winning. For those unfamiliar, they might be such sayings as “a winner never quits, and a quitter never wins.” At the time I found these abrasive, namely because I held science and technical innovation as MUCH higher human virtues than athletics, particularly team sports.

Not surprisingly, over time my thoughts on motivational quotes have changed. First of all, I notice that there are MANY human enterprises about which there are motivational quotes. A quick Google image search shows a number of categories, some of which include the following: Relationship, strength, determination, attitude, confidence and beauty. Helpfully, Google has chosen to further identify these categories with color codes! I invite you to check it out for yourself. Secondly, we all struggle with doing what we think is good, and avoiding what we think is bad, and I’m no different. Perhaps I’m still stuck with the juvenile disdain for motivational quotes I had when I was in high school, as I’m resistant to doing anything besides just reading these aphorisms when I see them. I would never buy a poster or print out a motivational quote and put it on my refrigerator.

Recently I began to think about the nature of resisting temptation, which is integral to creating and maintaining good habits. I believe “motivation” is a two headed coin; namely avoiding bad habits and inculcating good habits. A simple metaphor for this dichotomy is an Angel on one shoulder and a Demon on the other. Let’s consider for a moment the act of persuasion on the Demon’s part. First off, consider a more prosaic example. You are with someone who wants you to do something that you don’t immediately want to do. This person attempts to persuade you by suggesting positive outcomes if the suggested action is performed.

“Let’s go get Indian food!”
“Hmm… I’m sort of tired tonight. I’m not sure I feel like going out.”
“Oh,come on, you know how delicious that curry is, you know you’ll love it.”

Or the persuasion could go in a negative direction:

“Let’s go get Indian food!”
“Hmm… I’m sort of tired tonight. I’m not sure I feel like going out.”
“Don’t be such a wuss, we haven’t gone out in ages.”

The second example is a sort of double-whammy, as it implies that one’s inaction is preventing the other from having fun.

Obviously there are MANY sorts of persuasion, encompassing the entire spectrum of approaching positive outcomes to avoiding negative ones. In my opinion, some of the most successful persuasion works because the persuader KNOWS AND UNDERSTANDS the personality of the person being persuaded. Consider romantic relationships. Why is it that insults and threats delivered by a partner can be the most upsetting? Because of all the people on the planet, a partner is likely to know the sensitivities and weaknesses of the other the best. This is one of the great downsides to all romantic relationships. The person that knows you the best is also the person poised to hurt you the most.

But let’s step back from that dire human assessment for a moment. What if you are trying to break a bad habit? What if you are like me, and wish to stop snacking after dinner? Is there a killer motivational quote to help us? Well, I’m not sure, but consider this: Who REALLY is the Demon on your shoulder who tempts you to engage in postprandial snacking? It can be no other than you, yourself! Consider that of all the humans on the planet, probably including romantic partners, it is YOU who can formulate the most cunning and tempting idea, the most persuasive rationalization to give in to a bad habit. The Demon is YOU!

Frankly I don’t consider this a giant psychological insight, but I do find it helpful. When I find a temptation entering my stream of consciousness, I now realize that it has derives its psychological power from the fact that it came from ME, the person who can most persuasively tempt me of all humans on the planet. For what it’s worth, I find this conception empowering, as I now recognize how potent our OWN ideation can be.

Suppose I find myself in the kitchen, and the following idea enters my stream of consciousness:

“Go ahead and have a spoonful of peanut butter, if you use that long handled spoon it will be even cooler.”

Of all humans on the planet, IT IS I who knows just how much I love peanut butter, and how groovy I find my long handled spoons! Understanding this allows me to recognize how effective such internal persuasion can be, and weirdly, I feel it helps me resist it.

Perhaps understanding how effective your own persuasion works on you will enable you to resist it more effectively. So far it seems to be working for me. I plan to continue paying attention to see if it continues to function effectively.

Good luck!

Homer Simpson

 Posted by on 05/19/2016 Opinion, Personal History Tagged with:  Comments Off on Musings on “Motivational Quotes.”
May 162016
 

I’ve fooled around with cooking curries for several years now. I’m never quite content with whatever version I’ve created and inevitably tweak it somehow. Not long ago I hit on a combination that may represent my best effort yet, so I’ve decided to write this recipe down and share it.

First off, this curry contains chicken and chicken bullion, so it’s not something that vegans or vegetarians would be eating. I’ve experimented with a number of different beans and legumes, and I find toor dal to be both tasty and very well tolerated as far as avoiding the not-uncommon GI “issues” associated with many sorts of beans. Only late in life did I learn the term “pulse” along with bean and legume. Toor dal is a split pulse, and for further reading on the subject I found THIS PAGE to be quite helpful.

Ingredients:

1. One chicken breast. I use frozen from Costco, so I thaw one breast in the refrigerator overnight.
2. 100 grams toor dal. I soak mine in water overnight, though I understand one does not have to.
3. 100 grams bulgur. I like coarse bulgur, so I usually use #4.
4. Coconut milk.
5. 4 grams Curry powder
6. 7 grams MSG
7. Two spoonfuls (about two tablespoonfuls) Chicken Bullion. I use a ~paste~ bullion, so I’m not sure how to adjust for powder or cubed bullion.
8. 4 grams Red pepper flakes.
9. One spoonful (tablespoonful) Peanut butter
10. Soy milk (0ptional)
11. One half onion, diced. (Optional)

Soak 100 grams toor dal overnight in water. Rinse well in a colander and add to a crock pot. Add 100 grams dried bulgur, curry powder, MSG, red pepper flakes, chicken bullion, and peanut butter. I consider the peanut butter to be the “secret ingredient” in this recipe. Add one half diced onion, if desired. Cut the chicken breast into small chunks, perhaps a centimeter across, and add to the crock pot. Cover with coconut milk. Cook on the lowest crock pot setting for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes too thick, feel free to add a bit of soy milk. The soy milk I use is sweetened, and as such adds a nice counterbalance to the savory nature of the curry.

Curry Crop

 Posted by on 05/16/2016 Opinion Tagged with:  Comments Off on Toor Dal Curry