The 7 Sins of the Modern World.

In Western society we have all heard of the seven cardinal sins. And, whilst it’s a Christian concept, pretty much every person in every society can see why they are viewed so negatively. Pride is not only unpleasant to be around, it can motivate people to act in their own best interests rather than those of the group. Wrath is dangerous to a society, the wrathful person and their victims. Envy can be a motivator behind violence and more unpleasant activities. Lust undermines the romantic and political structures behind human relationships. Greed can encourage people to focus only on themselves, or to work only for unconsumable rewards, again interfering with society’s function as well as being irritating. Gluttony can make the sinner unhealthy as well as risking an imbalanced divide of consumables, causing starvation. Sloth makes people unproductive, encourages them to rely on the work of others and is a general bane to society.

And, just as most people in most societies understand the problems the cardinal sins bring, most people and most cultures have their own examples that spring to mind when these sins are mentioned. In the West, we picture the arrogant businessman with an inflated sense of self importance as Pride, the angry harpy beating her boyfriend over every misdemeanor as Wrath, the teenager keying his wealthier classmate’s car as Envy, the amateur “stripper” with a partner count in the 100s as Lust, the elitist CEO driving third world workers to death as Greed, the morbidly obese hedonist gourmet-meets-gourmand as Gluttony and the bone-idle thirty-something shutaway living off their parents and the dole as Sloth.

But we have these views because they disconnect us from the reality of these sins. These extreme examples are extreme because of how massively they impact those affected. But they are hardly the most common manifestations of these sins. Each is more common and just as extreme in our daily lives, and whilst the impact of one or two people engaging in these behaviours is small, their collective impact is destroying our society.

Pride = Entitlement

Pride is an overinflated sense of self-worth accompanied by an expression of that sense and often poor self-esteem. Basically, a proud person believes they are very important whilst harbouring volatile insecurity beneath the surface. Hence “pride goes before destruction”, as the inevitable result of pride is the cracking of the shell.

And nowhere is pride more evident in our society than in our fragile and all-encompassing sense of entitlement. Often confused with narcissism, this form of pride comes young. Children already display it in a way not evidenced in tribal or pre-1900s societies. It is the obsession with your own worth, the idea that you deserve everything you want, that every denial is injust, that everyone who dislikes you is jealous and everyone who loves you does so for the right reasons. It is born of a combination of easygoing parenting, extreme wealth and a deep fear of abandonment and hatred. Whenever pride is denied or the illusion is broken, a feeling of resentment and fear ensues.

It may manifest as an expectation that you’ll get a certain gift for valentine’s, a desire to be deeply loved by everyone or a need to get your ideal car, at your ideal price, regardless of all context.

Wrath = Stress

Wrath is intense, uncontrolled anger, normally born from vengeful desires. Basically, a wrathful person is quick to anger, sensitive to other people’s anger, quick to act on their anger and often paranoid.

Wrath in our society is actually a more subtle sin. Due to careful indoctrination in schools, extreme policing and careful observation of our social rules by both individuals and organizations, there aren’t many vents for anger. Not only is this bad for general irritability, as bottling your anger isn’t very good for you, but it’s even worse in terms of wrath. When you bottle rightful anger and wrath together, you can lose sight of what is a helpful emotion designed to tell you what is harming you, and what is a rooted desire for vengeance and destruction. When this happens, we begin to pile straw onto the camel’s back. Everything gets mixed up and causes stress. Because we’re angry, frustrated, wrathful and can’t express it, identify it, deal with it. Stress is your body’s response to danger. And when we harbour wrath we can’t act on, we feel endangered, hurt and start to become stressed.

Of course, not all stress is born of wrath. A lot of stress comes from exhaustion, overworking, etc. But, then again, some of the most effective stress release therapies involve violent outbursts. Boxing, pillow-screaming, stress balls, punching pillows, martial arts… Think of how many people do that to let off steam. Consider how much wrath could be behind their stress, unaddressed.

Envy = Debt

Envy is a desire for something that someone else has, usually largely because they happen to have it. Basically, an envious person wants to own the things that others have. They would not want them if the other person did not have them or enjoy them. They feel an acute pain when someone else has something good and they desire it.

Just to be clear, I am not saying debt is envy. Rather, a lot of debt in modern Western societies is the manifestation of envy: its physical result in the real world. Some people will be in debt due to a crisis: sudden unemployment, illness and injury, fire in an uninsured home, etc. But this isn’t the case for the vast majority of Western people. The vast majority are in debt because we spend beyond our means, buy pointless things and always need to upgrade. Students who get engineering degrees are rarely in debt for very long. They get out, get work and pay off their debt. But students who aren’t bright or qualified enough for an engineering degree would rather accumulate debt they can’t repay in a marxist film theory degree than be “outshone” by the engineers. People with good money can afford yearly new cars and £1M houses. People without good money will use credit, mortgages and installments to live a good money lifestyle.

Most individuals are in debt because a friend, relative, celebrity or random person on TV showed themselves to have more than the individual had, so the individual got a degree, a car, a house, etc to compete with everyone else. Keeping up with the Joneses is envy that begets debt.

Lust = Porn

Whereas envy is a reactive desire: wanting what someone else has because they have it, lust is an active desire: wanting something because it is. Lust is perceived as an integral, animalistic drive, following your baser instincts rather than taught behaviours. It is usually connected to sex, as sex is the strongest source of spontaneous attraction to humans, often coming before food.

I know this one has been done into the dust, but it has because it’s true. Lust in our society manifests primarily in our consumption of pornographic materials. And boy do we consume them. Pornographic content is available at the touch of a button online, composing around 5% of websites and getting more traffic than Netflix. There are also forums and message boards dedicated to it. And where it’s viewed as a man’s problem, people are starting to become aware that when women feel the urge, we are just as likely to go to a porn site. To add to that, we have the traditional sources of porn: magazines, erotica, photos, both in their old forms and online forms. Furthermore, we have become so obsessed with sex that we need to talk about who is or isn’t having it, what is appropriate to do in your private bedroom and whether breastfeeding is sexual. We are so obsessed that we now use sex icons to sell fairly innocuous products and all sorts of items, for men, women and teens alike, are sold using sex.

When we watch videos worshiping the female behind, when we buy a product that was sold using sex, when we consume erotica, pornographic videos or “soft” pictures, we are indulging lust. And almost nobody is exempt.

Greed = Workaholism

Greed is “excessive aquisitiveness”, or the desire to possess more than you need. Basically, the greedy person is a hoarder, wanting to accumulate beyond what they could possibly ever use. They never have enough, whatever they add to the hoard becomes the new “baseline” they never want to drop below. They just keep accumulating.

Greed in our society is manifest as workaholism. Now, again, we’re not talking about the actual medical condition where someone is basically addicted to the work itself. We’re talking about the far more common form: the addiction to earning. These are the people who ate their jobs and do the bare minimum for their hourly pay, but will do extra hours, extra work and take on secondary jobs to get more money in the bank. They will then use that money to buy material goods to hoard or boast of, or events and experiences to boast of. All that matters is accumulating enough wealth. And most people indulge in greed to a degree.

Yet thanks to a combination of greed, pride and envy, we don’t realize how greedy or jealous we actually are, as we will spend right the way to the edge of every paycheck trying to keep up with the Joneses. Plenty of people survive on 4-10k/year in Western countries. Yet a workaholic with a 200k paycheck and 100k in debt feels like they are living a bare basics lifestyle when, in fact, they are consumed by greed and envy.

Gluttony = Obesity

Gluttony is often confused with greed. Gluttony is the permanent desire for consumable goods and an overconsumption of them when they get them. Basically, a glutton is someone who longs for more food than they need and regularly indulges that longing.

And our manifestation of gluttony is obesity. Now, you could argue that gluttony is also manifest as gourmets, gourmands and bulimics. But these people, even added up, do not make up a half to two thirds of any given population. We are surrounded by food and the only people who are not truly gluttonous are those who eat the amount they need to sustain themselves and eat largely if not wholly for sustenance. So two thirds of the population is already excluded and that’s without counting thin people who suffer from binge eating disorders, who obsess over food, who eat only for pleasure and not for health. In short, we live in such a time of abundance that not only is the temptation to be greedy strong, there are few among us who haven’t succumbed to it.

Sloth = Infantilism

Finally, we get to sloth. Sloth is an aversion to work or activity, not at all limited to the physical. Basically, a slothful person will be work-shy, physically idle and therefore unfit, uninclined to make up their own minds about anything, needing to have their opinions and ideas fed to them, fond of mindless entertainment, etc.

As you have probably guessed, sloth is as prevalent in our society as pride, gluttony and envy. Probably more prevalent. And it is because of taught infantilism. Infantilism is the state of being mentally younger than your biological age. Taught infantilism is when that state is not a result of disability, but of upbringing. And every generation is more and more infantilized. We are hand-held through life. Our parents guard and protect us from bad images on TV, insults and fights with siblings. Our parents can’t punish their children efficiently any more. The government coddles and stunts children. We know no suffering, no pain, no fear, no injury, no insult. Too many children never hear “no”. Between weak parenting and government intrusion, many people don’t mentally mature beyond the age range 8-13, leaving them overly sensitive to insult, insecure, with abandonment issues, unable to look after themselves, relying heavily on the government for their income, safety, education, security, decision-making, etc.

The results of infantilism are fairly evident. Children need to look up to their parents, trust teachers and siblings, learn from their elders, rely on others to make decisions for them, etc. That is the natural order. But in an adult who should be robust, mature and independent those behaviours are just slothful. Someone who needs a comfortable car to go everywhere, who needs to be told who to vote for, who needs someone to protect them whenever they choose to intoxicate themselves, who needs to slap them on the wrist when they hurt themselves… that person is as slothful as someone who never gets up from the sofa.

Sins = Chaos

So there are the seven cardinal sins, why they are a problem whether you are Christian or not, religious or not and how they manifest in our society. You needn’t have any faith at all to realize that cardinal sins are sins because they mess things up for everyone and shouldn’t be done.

But as a population and as individuals we regularly indulge the seven sins. It’s quite likely that at least half the population gives into all seven over the course of a week and doesn’t even realize they have done it. We expect to be catered to by everyone and guarded from ourselves by the government, but we don’t see our pride and sloth. We obsess over earning more, getting good credit, all so we can get a car that our mate Dave has been showing off, but we don’t see envy, greed and pride. We overeat and get fat, but we don’t see gluttony and sloth. We long for every item we see for sale, but we don’t see greed, lust, pride, and envy. We get overly anxious at work because we aren’t earning enough and need a promotion to pay off our mortgage faster, but we don’t see greed, envy and wrath. We treat each other as objects, trying to extort money, sex, attention, all sorts of things out of the people who pass through our lives, but we don’t see lust, pride and greed. As a population we are consumed by the seven cardinal sins. And our society is a perfect example of why these sins are so much of a problem.

We can move beyond it on an individual level. We will all succumb to them from time to time, but we can at least strive to be modest, unselfish, calm, kind, loving, active, restrained and mature, to make the most of what we have, enjoy others successes, strive for our own success and be moderate in all we consume and use. But unless 99% of the Western world adopted that approach, we will be a drop of water in the ocean.

What do you think? Do you agree on the modern representations of the sins? Do you fight them, or do you “enjoy the decline”? How do you deal with people who display all these problems? Share your thoughts, knowledge and experiences in the comments!

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

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Marriage As A Team.

With the advances of no-fault divorce, women usually being secondary or non-earners, staggered alimony and the assumption of female primary caregiving, it makes sense that a lot of men aren’t really all that interested in marriage. From a purely economic perspective, even if the stats actually show your risk of divorce is well under 50%, there’s still a risk. How many people would put their head into a tame lion’s mouth? It’s still a lion.

However, curiously, women have started to question marriage. At least during the years when we are likely to have a more successful marriage, which is 25-35. Which is odd, considering that we risk very little in marrying and stand to gain so much from either a lifelong marriage or divorce. From a purely objective standpoint, women should at least be ambivalent for men’s sake, at worst be callous supporters. But, as a population, we’re not.

The social demonization of marriage that started in the 60s and 70s is catching up with us. The angry, bitter radicals who called marriage slavery out of one corner of their mouths whilst stalking a man across the globe have finally persuaded most of Western society, men and women alike, that marriage is an evil institution. And they have done so by making it a zero-sum-game.

The basic concept of a zero-sum-game is: someone always wins, someone always loses. In the context of partnerships: one of you will be better off than when you were single and one of you will be worse off than when you were single. And the idea that marriage or long term partnerships are zero-sum-games has infiltrated every corner of our society. Feminists will claim that marriage is anywhere from manipulation to slavery for women, so they must seek to control their relationships carefully. PUAs will claim that marriage and long term relationships are shackles to the minds of men who do not dominate their relationships. Your Joe and Joan Average will work their very hardest to evenly split all their work, incomes, chores and time, so as to guarantee a balance. Everyone is convinced that if you aren’t getting more out than your partner, you’d be better off single.

Which is very scary, considering it undermines one of the main functions of marriage: to grow with each other. The purpose of marriage is to create a mini-community. Which, in our fairly empty, disconnected, callous world, is highly needed as many of us don’t have a larger community anyway. It’s meant to bond two people, get them working in sync so that they both have more than when they started, so they can look after their elders and have and raise healthy, happy children. That was the entire point of marriage.

Therefore, when we try and treat it as a zero-sum-game, as an individual vs individual competition where when you aren’t doing better than them, you’re losing, we aren’t in a marriage. You may have the certificates, but all you’re doing is coexisting, or, worse even, competing.

Instead, when you’re in a long term relationship of any kind, you should be looking at the relationship as the whole and yourselves as the halves. You are not factories, but production units in a little factory. And you should be working on everything you can to keep the factory (your relationship) functional and profitable for both of you. And this becomes quite a cycle. For example, how Jon and I work together to give ourselves a better life:

  1. Jon works full time so he can afford to rent this house. +space
  2. I care for the house so he doesn’t have to. Meaning the house is more worth having and leaving us more together time. +time
  3. I can cook him far better, healthier meals than he could cook himself in the time he used to have, saving us money on snacks and supplements. +money
  4. Because the house is so big, I can use the spare bedroom as an office to tutor from. I can also grow our own food in the garden. +money
  5. Because I work as a private tutor, I can earn £10-25/h, rather than minimum wage of £6.50/h not including travel and expenses. +money
  6. Because I work from home, I work on my own hours. +time
  7. Which means I also can arrange my work day to take advantage of discounts, offers, reduced price foods. +money
  8. Which means his disposable income hasn’t actually dropped much from when he lived in a single room. +money
  9. Which means the need for overtime is reduced. +time

If we both worked full time, split the chores when we got home and only had that little remainder together, we’d have less money, less free time and eventually not be able to afford the space we live in, the quality of food we eat or the entertainment we use. In short, if we acted as individuals, our quality of life would go down. So basically, by working together, as a unit, viewing time together as our main free time, and our assets as shared rather than split, we have both improved our quality of life. He has a larger home, better food, more time with me, more time for leisure activities, more flexibility with work and more money in the bank at the end of the month than when single. I have a larger home, better work prospects, more time with him, more time for leisure activities and more money in the bank at the end of the month than if I were single. We’re in a relationship and by viewing the relationship as the unit and ourselves as component parts: we both win.

So no, long term relationships aren’t a zero-sum-game where there has to be a loser and if you can’t spot the loser, the loser is you. They are a team game where you both work together and use your assets to protect each other’s assets, multiplying the rewards for your work. They are an investment in a partner that, if well -calculated, will pay you back. If you can’t spot the loser, but you’re richer, happier, with more free time and a generally higher standard of life than before: you’re not a loser, you’re playing the game right.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

What is your view on long term relationships? How does your relationship or marriage work? What do you feel your personal investment gives back to you as a couple? Do share!

FitFriday XXIII, FatFriday X. Too much sugars. Meh.

Fit.

Being keeping at it with my weights and my intermittent yoga between lessons, so as far as exercise is concerned, I’m feeling pretty good.

BUT, between work and Jon being on night shifts I’ve not really given myself much opportunity to enjoy the recently increased sunlight. I need to fix that and try and make time for myself to get out into the garden in a t-shirt or a dress and dig, weed, get cold and get some sun for a bit. Otherwise I’ll have to look at VitD supplementation which, outside the darkest hours of Winter, is a little sad for someone who actually has the time to get some sunning done.

Diet has been OK, but sugars through the roof. Not so much the granulated, palm or cane sugars, though they have features more often. More dates and prunes, things like Nakd bars. Which, however good for you, are very rich in fast release sugars. This has sent my water retention a bit weird, so I’ll monitor my intake of salts and water until I’m back to normal. Safe to say, I won’t be abusing fruit again, especially not dried fruit, in the near future. Sugar is sugar.

Back onto some more calories, though, now work levels and workout levels are increasing. Body fat is pretty good and I really need to get some gains in whilst we keep wondering about the whole baby-plan. May need to rewrite my yearly plan, if we’re not working towards a baby yet.

Fat.

As mentioned, I haven’t been too lazy. Kept fairly busy, doing lots of work and exercise, house kept quite well, other than hoovering, which feels like a futile effort this time of year.

The naughtiest thing I ate was an amazing bread and butter pudding which shall feature in next week’s WWW. Already had a Supreme Bread and Butter Pudding, so maybe this one can be a Regal Bread and Butter Pudding? Either way, wheat, piles of dairy, sugar and sickeningly sweet raw custard with it.

The tastiest thing I ate was actually not the pudding, though it may be hard to believe. I actually preferred a bowl of corned beef with cheese, though, again, the dairy will have to be cut back. It can’t be doing me any good to be pushing my limits like that.

Next week I’m sticking to my workouts, cooking up plenty of fish and beef alongside lentils, salads and eggs, as well as rebalancing my sugar intake and cutting back the dairy.

How did your week in fitness go? How do you cope when you need to cut back on tasty foods, like cheese?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… declutter your wardrobe the easy way.

Spring cleaning time! We’ve already addressed the clutter in your house. How about we take a look at our wardrobes next? I know, I know: “The horror!” You, like me and pretty much everyone, hate the idea of clearing down your wardrobe. And I get it. It’s always been time consuming, we never know what to part with, we hold onto something and everything “just in case” and eventually we are done, with nothing to show for it but a couple of wasted hours and a top with a few holes in it that maybe we’ll throw away, reuse or thrift (we never do).

So here are some foolproof steps to clearing down your wardrobe the easy way.

1: Sort everything by season.

First of all, none of these tricks work properly is your jumpers are between your sundresses and your shorts. Try and separate your clothing by the seasons there are in your country. Maybe there’s just a dry and a wet season, maybe the Spring and Winter are very obvious, but the Summer and Autumn are similar. However you do it, sort your clothes by the season you’re most likely to wear them.

2: Get storage boxes.

One marked “mending”, one marked “rags and upcycling”, one marked “charity”. Keep the mending one near your sewing. Keep the other two somewhere you can easily move them into your room several times a year, but where they’re out of the way for about 300 days of the year!

When you come across something that’s broken that should be in your “keep” pile, add it to the mending box. When you come across something that’s too bad to give away, put it in the rags box. When you come across something nice that isn’t right for you, put it in the charity box.

3: Use the hanger trick.

Go through this season by season. Hang all your seasonal clothes the wrong way around. Put your seasonal tops and underwear and whatever else upside down in drawers. And just use them all as normal. At the end of the season, whatever’s still the wrong way round hasn’t been used and probably won’t really be missed.

When it comes to work clothes and formal wear, keep them in rotation for a full year. If they get no use in a year, then you probably don’t need them.

Once the first year is up, we move onto stage two of the sorting.

4: Sort it by size.

We all do it. We keep clothes that don’t fit. Maybe they’re from when we were a different size, maybe they shrunk or stretched in the laundry, maybe we were given them. Whatever it is: you don’t need them.

Most people have two sizes they hover between over the course of the year. In my case it’s a small to a large 12, or a large 10 to a small 14. So first make a pile of your range, be it 8-12 or 10L-14S. Everything outside that pile, unless it’s an overgarment you regularly wear over many other clothes, can go.

Next, look through your “keep” pile for anything that only just fits and take it out of the pile. Just because the label says it fits or it sometimes looks OK doesn’t mean it actually fits.

5: Get a theme going.

Like it or not, we all have colours, cuts and styles that suit us. Depending on where you like your variety, try and theme your wardrobe. It’s fine to have a gothic wardrobe full of various colours and cuts, a dress wardrobe full of various styles and colours or a wardrobe that has a bit of anything blue, green and grey.

But if you have a wardrobe with clothing in styles ranging from hippie to emo, in cuts ranging from grungy to classic dresses, in all the colours of the rainbow, you will soon run out of things to wear. Why? Because not only should your wardrobe suit you, your clothes should match. When your clothes largely have something in common you don’t run out of combinations or ideas. So find out what colours suit you best, what your personal style is and what cuts and items are best for your life and see what theme you can work out that meets all your needs.

So now we’ve worked out what to keep, we have three daunting boxes ahead of us.

6: Make a mending pile.

So, this is one of the only two parts where you will actually have to sort the traditional way. Sit down and organize your loved, well-fitting, themed clothes that need mending. Sort them by the type of repair: darning, stitching, patches, rehem, reline, bleach. Then, find a day when you have enough time to repair one group. Do this until you’ve repaired the whole box.

7: Repurpose.

Another part where you have to sort traditionally. Arrange the clothing by fabric type so you can easily access them when you need them. Then, put them in your stash or put them away.

Ideas for old clothes include: dishrags, carseat covers, aprons, cushion covers, hanging organizers, under-table hammocks, patches for mending, etc.

8: Give away.

Finally, take what you’re going to give away. First try offering items to friends or family. Whatever they don’t want, put through the wash, fold and give to a local charity shop.

And that’s how to declutter your wardrobe the long, but very easy way. Not only have you got rid of your clutter, you’ve also got a better wardrobe, fixed your damaged clothes, got an endless supply of dish and wash rags, given to charity and hardly thrown away a scrap of fabric! How about that?

How do you declutter and sort your wardrobe? How do you reduce your fabric footprint? What is your fabric stash like? Do you reuse much? Please share your ideas, thoughts and advice in the comments!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

10 Ways to Take Care of Yourself.

We all know and understand the message of looking after ourselves first. Everything from the little reminder during airline safety videos to advice for first time mothers reminds us that you can’t help someone before making sure you’re safe yourself.

But it can be hard to stick to this. Most of us have someone we put at the same level as ourselves, if not before us in terms of wellbeing. All of us have at some point harmed our health by trying to care for someone else. It’s all well and good to say “look after yourself”, but when the time actually comes, all you want to do is give everything to your partner, child, friend, relative or pet. When we try and look after ourselves first we can feel guilty or worried.

So what are some ways we can take care of ourselves when really all we want to do is run around looking after other people?

1. Quiet corner.

This is first because it’s the very first thing you can do. Everything else comes in no particular order, but this is big. Find yourself a nice, quiet corner of the house to call your own and to make comfortable. Try and keep any stressful work away from it and make it pretty clear that it’s your territory and refuge. It doesn’t have to be a room. The bath, a comfy chair or even the garden could do. Wherever you are comfortable, happy and out of the way of household traffic.

2. Eat well.

Eating healthy is vital to looking after yourself. Make sure that you eat food that energizes you and refreshes you, avoid food that makes you sluggish or unwell and don’t eat too much or too little. Eat when you’re hungry and not just when you get the time. Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t let yourself get away with a diet you’d never feed someone else. You deserve as good and healthy a meal as anyone else.

3. Bedtimes.

Set a bedtime and stick to it as much as possible. Sure, you may get up to care for someone who is sick or to put a child back to bed, but in principle, lights out is lights out. Try and guarantee yourself a routine, some proper rest and some bedroom privacy.

4. Dress up.

Make yourself look nice every day. Maybe not dressing to the nines, but wear practical clothes you like seeing yourself in, sort your hair, put on a bit of jewelery, a dusting of makeup, get rid of hangnails and dirty hands. Seeing yourself looking good will boost your confidence and mood.

5. Have a treat.

Even if you’re making sure to eat really healthy, budget properly and stay focused, from time to time give yourself a treat. It doesn’t have to be something massive, expensive, extravagant or anything of the sort. But if you’re the sort of person who will, in a week, buy £20 of chocolate for a loved one and not allow themselves a boiled sweet for the entire seven days, you’ll understand when I say: it really isn’t that big of a deal. Have a little treat. Enjoy it.

6. Get a hobby.

Find something you can do that you love. It might be scrapbooking, painting, dancing, cooking, rappelling, sewing, anything. But find something you love and make a habit of doing it. Maybe you’ll go to a monthly book club or maybe you’ll set aside twenty minutes a day to garden. Whatever it is and however often, take some time to just be you and have fun.

7. Exercise.

No matter how healthy you’re eating, how well rested you are and how little time you have, try and find a few minutes a day to exercise. It will build your muscles, burn through fat, elevate your mood and get you fired up and ready for the next challenge. Maybe you can only manage a four minute emergency workout in the morning. Or maybe you have three hours a week to dedicate to jogging. Whatever it is, do it.

8. Unwind.

Just because you have your quiet space and bedtime doesn’t mean those are the only times and places you can relax. Sit down with the kids and read a book. Watch a film with your partner. Just soak in the bath. Do something once in a while to completely put your mind and body at ease.

9. Get out.

It can be very easy to get locked between work, home, shopping and any other closed spaces, like bars, clubs, gyms, restaurants or friends’ houses. But the great outdoors can help you in many ways. Just looking at plants can relax you, fresh air does a body good and sunlight provides life-giving Vitamin D. A brisk walk in the park once a week could make life so much easier.

10. Laugh.

Laughter being the best medicine is a commonly repeated and mocked expression. But, in reality, it does help. Laughter can provide pain relief, relax you, make you happy and boost your immune system. So find something comical, sit down and have a good laugh. Laugh even at the bad jokes, the inappropriate ones, the offensive ones, the ones you don’t like. Laugh more and you’ll feel better all round.

Do you think you look after yourself well? Or do you always put others first and yourself last? How do you look after yourself? How could you improve? Feel free to share.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

IQ is EVERYTHING… and Nothing.

Everybody is obsessed with IQ.

When it supports your absurd political ideology, biological or sociological theory or simply when the “right” people and agendas are associated with a high IQ, it means everything. It is infallible, a marker of definite quality, a sign of the Messiah.

When it offends your delicate sensibilities, disproves or works against your theories and when the “wrong” people have high IQs, or, Heavens forbid, the “right” people have low IQs, it means nothing. It is weak, a poor measure of quality, meaningless.

And once they’ve decided whether IQ is good or bad, people will trot out countless individuals and studies proving their case. It’s astonishing how well science has proven that IQ is the most important measure of individual quality, meaningless on an individual level, a marker of society’s success and independent of social development, all whilst it doesn’t even exist! Truly a miraculous thing.

Now, for what it’s worth, I sort of agree with the last statement. No, not the sarcastic remark, but that IQ doesn’t exist. At least not in the way people think about it, or want it to exist.

Many people assume IQ is a definitive marker of intelligence, like a brain scan, an exam score or the likes. Something that tells you, with at least 80% accuracy, how smart, wise, bright or otherwise intelligent a person is. The reality is a little duller. What even the most culturally neutral, squares-vs-circles, spot the difference IQ test measures is actually mathematical ability. In other words, how well you can put two and two together, order things by size and shape and work out the next item, word or number in a sequence. Which I’m pretty sure we all mastered by the age of six. Even very autistic or mentally handicapped children can do such things, albeit not always on demand.

I’m not saying these things aren’t important, mind. Being able to quickly, consistently and efficiently do such things plays a huge part in your life. Being able to work out if you got the right change, to guess which data plan suits you best, to gauge the time it will take a gazelle to reach your hiding spot, to take apart and put together machines, to whittle a point to just the right size, etc have always been important skills for humans. We need to do these things in order to live. We always have and we always will. Because regardless of your job, lifestyle, age or status, a human who can’t remember the difference between a moving and a still car, who can’t remember the severity of car impact, who can’t gauge the speed of an oncoming vehicle, who can’t work out the probability of getting hit and who can’t weigh the pros and cons of crossing an open road versus looking for a pedestrian crossing is probably a dead human. Maths matter, folks.

So why is a measure of simple mathematical ability used as a measure of intelligence? Well, it isn’t. Even the most hardcore IQ-loving scientist understands that IQ isn’t telling you how intelligent someone is. It is simply telling you their potential for intelligence. How intelligent they could be if everything worked out right.

The difference between IQ and intelligence is similar to the difference between a talent and a skill. Let’s look at my family, for two reasons. One is we are a very artistically gifted (or talented) bunch, the other is there are a lot of us. My father is a skilled musician, a decent writer and a good painter; my mother is an excellent painter and a good crafter; my eldest brother did not exploit his talents as far as I know; my other brother is a good singer; my eldest sister is a good writer and a good sketcher; my other elder sister is a good singer, but I’m not sure what else; I like to think I am a decent painter and a good crafter, sketcher and writer; my younger sister is an excellent painter and a good writer; my youngest sister is a good painter, writer and jewelery maker. So with genes that are somehow conducive to artistic talent, we all wound up with different sets of skills. And we all use those skills differently. I will write absolutely anything, my younger sister writes scripts, my father writes songs and poems. I paint landscapes and surreal and impressionist art, my father painted a lot of abstract work, my mother paints realistic portraits and illustrations and my younger sister paints manga and pop art. We have used what nature gave us very differently.

And that is the difference between talent and skill. An artistically talented two year old who never exploits this gift will not grow up to be a great artist. They will paint better than the average two year old, but no more. Likewise, a brilliantly gifted abstract artist may paint more realistic portraits than Joe Average, but will pale in comparison to a talentless professional portrait artist with years of experience. Your talent is what you are born with. Your skill is what you learn. Together, they are your total ability, your limitations. Likewise, your IQ is a rough measure of your potential intelligence. What else you have and what you do to build on it is what makes your actual intelligence.

So what are the other sides to your intelligence, the other things that contribute to how smart you can possibly get?

The first is commonly called “Creative Intelligence” or “Creativity”. The most correct term for it is “Latent Inhibition”, ie, how naturally inhibited and obedient you are. The higher the latent inhibition, the more likely you are to need rules, even instruction, before you dare act. The lower the latent inhibition, the more likely you are to do something on impulse or to break boundaries. Everyone needs both the ability to follow some sort of order, even if it’s just remembering the consequences of your actions, and the ability to act independently, even if it’s just weighing several rules or orders against each other. I have a theory that it is often a poor balance between IQ and LI that results in stranger or less adaptive behaviours, rather than low IQ causing all the trouble. Individual motivations and interests aside, someone with a below average IQ with above average LI will be just as law-abiding as someone with a high IQ and average LI and probably moreso than someone with above average IQ and below average LI.

The next is social learning. This could be in the form of empathy, sympathy, cooperativeness, etc. Basically, it’s your ability to learn from others without instruction. This is where a lot of people on the autism spectrum fall. They may have a high IQ and moderately low LI, but without the ability to infer from others and properly observe them, you can’t begin to learn. Social learning is the groundwork for all other forms of learning. This is how you integrate into your culture, develop an accent or a walk. You don’t study another person’s accent, but if you live with them it will merge with yours, either from empathy, cooperation or just acclimatization.

Finally comes education. If you just have IQ, LI and social learning as distinguishing elements of intelligence, we would be no different to most social animals. However we also have education. This comes in many forms, from schooling, to training, to immersion, to passing old wives tales around. Your education is what you have learned from others through instruction and your IQ, LI and social learning abilities will all reflect on how easily you can be educated. Therefore, the last factor is simply your personality and culture. Are you willing to be educated? Are you overly trusting, maybe not trusting enough? What will you focus on learning? What education do you have access to? What education do you need? Someone with a high IQ, high social learning, and low LI could easily avoid educating themselves, be taught the wrong thing or live in a society where certain matters are not essential to their lives. Therefore, you can have someone who is set up for high intelligence, who is wrong about many things due to cultural factors, obstinacy, lack of educational resources or emotional intensity.

Of course, a hard limit on intelligence is a hard limit. All things being equal, someone with an IQ of 120 is smarter than someone with an IQ of 70. Just as, all things being equal, a man with two legs runs faster than a man with only one. And of two people in a class, all being equal, the one with the higher IQ will be able to advance to a level where the one with a lower IQ gets stuck. It’s as simple as that.

But there is simply more to it than that in real life. All things aren’t equal, for starters. Someone may have dyslexia, synesthesia, psychopathy, nerve damage, autism, etc. And the cultural environment in which our education happens can shape us permanently, so that someone very bright is reluctant to leave the social norm, or someone very dim is in the right setting to learn harsh truths the bright person can’t. And, finally, probably most importantly, few people reach their full potential anyway. When the environment is at its harshest we are encouraged to develop our intelligence as far as possible, but we rarely have the means to become educated. When the environment is at its gentlest we are hand-held through life and discouraged from developing our highest intelligence, but we have the luxury of great education. And which matters more? Who knows. Both are highly adaptive strategies.

What does matter is IQ. Just not in the way people think it does.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

FitFriday XXII, FatFriday IX. Warrior Diet.

Well, it turns out that my natural eating habits plus salads technique for losing fat and keeping mass is called a Warrior Diet. Who would have guessed?

Basically you eat low calorie, plant-based foods over the day, have a 4-6 hour eating window where you eat as much protein and fat rich foods as you like and then finish off with the carbs if you’re still craving them. So that’s pretty cool.

I also ate 1/4 of a family-sized cheesecake yesterday and am deeply regretting it. On the plus side… [TMI] what comes out undigested didn’t contribute calories, right? [/TMI] Ah, lactose intolerance, maybe you’re useful after all?

Other than that I’ve been very good and enjoyed eating loads of vegetables, berries and meats over the course of the week. Did some weighted walking, some shifts at the charity shop, some lifting sessions and some yoga. Generally feel awesome.

The naughtiest thing I ate all week was that cheesecake and I’m not sure it was worth it either. The tastiest thing I ate all week was a cocoa Nakd bar. They’re just plain delicious and having been on berry ones for a while, the chocolate hit was wonderful.

I haven’t been too lazy this week, so I’m feeling pretty good about my activity levels.

Next week I plan on keeping everything up, avoiding dairy like the plague, reading more about the Warrior diet and doing more yoga when bored.

How did your week in fitness and health go?