Month: November 2013

Your Subconscious Mind

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You know how sometimes you’re working on something and no matter how much effort you put into it, it doesn’t seem to want to resolve itself? Then some online guru tells you that in order to solve a problem, sometimes you need to step back from it and look at the whole picture, focus on the forest, because your nose is buried too deep in the tree, and you wish you could take a step back…and you promise you would take a step back, if only you could solve it…

Well, take that break. It does work. Sometimes. When you’re consciously not thinking about the problem, your subconscious mind back there is working. Plus, sometimes it works as a valid excuse for procrastinating. “I’m taking a break so my subconscious mind can work on the problem.”

I remember an exam I sat for once. A question annoyed me during the exam because I felt like the answer was lodged in my brain somewhere, but for some reason that section was inaccessible. Needless to say, I submitted the exam, went to my room, went to sleep and when I woke up…seriously, the moment I woke up, I found myself thinking about the solution. “Way overdue…way overdue…”

Mental note: next time you get stuck in an exam, put your head on the desk and take a nap. Just don’t take my word for it.

So my friend and I were talking about Facebook today. I have personally developed an unfathomable aversion to it, which is why I deactivated my account even though it used to boost my blog stats. But seriously, how many of us, on some subconscious level, use facebook (and/or twitter) to feed the narcissistic part of us? The part that loves the attention and comments and the likes.

Personally I like twitter because it allows me to follow ideas and not people. I’ve written about it before here.

Last but not least, if you’ve read this post to the very end then you’re disproving statistics on that say that the average attention span has dropped from 12 s in 2000 to 8 s in 2012. Compare that with the reported information that the attention span of a gold fish is 9 s. Of course, anyone would eye that sort of information with skepticism (especially if you’ve taken a statistics course where you learn that the numbers can say anything you want them to if you know how to play with them).



Winners Announced

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Thank you all for the comments. The winners for the competition are Alya and Bliss. Congratulations! Either send me your M-Pesa number by replying to the email I’ll be sending you soon (on the email address you used to comment) or if that email is incorrect, get in touch with me at so I’ll be sending you your prize.


Random Ramblings on Relativity and Changing the World

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So it’s hot-chocolate season finally and I’m sipping mine. Of course, when someone who’s grown up in the UAE tells you it’s cold, then they’re probably talking about a temperature of 27 or 30. Celsius not Kelvin. But it shows you that these things are all a matter of relativity. Just like beauty, taste and people tolerability. You can’t really take these things on an absolute scale because every individual’s background and experience defines or redefines their scales. Yeah, and they can be a function of time as well.

I was pretty much uninspired today. A lot of random ideas were there floating at the top of my mind, but there was nothing that I wanted to explore. So naturally, I ended watching a TED talk. This one was by Drew Dudley and it was titled “Everyday Leadership.” He talks about the ‘lollipop moments’ which he defines as small moments where you do something small or say something tiny that positively affects somebody else’s life. Here’s a quote from the talk, “It is so scary to think of ourselves as that powerful. It can be frightening to think that we can matter that much to other people, because as long as we make leadership something bigger than us, as long as we keep leadership something beyond us, as long as we make it about changing the world, we give ourselves an excuse not to expect it every day from ourselves and from each other. And my call to action today is that we need to get over that. We need to get over our fear of how extraordinarily powerful we can be in each other’s lives.”

One thing that I’ve successfully done this weekend, is keep my phone away when I’m with people. On Friday we were visiting my mother’s friend and I actually kept my phone in the car so as not to be disturbed. Of course, there were awkward moments of silence where I wished I had the phone, since we ended up in a sitting room with strangers waiting for the common friend we had come to visit to show up. But then with everything happening in Kenya, the news (or rather, people’s opinions on the news) ended up breaking the ice. Then yesterday I went for breakfast with my best friend and I kept my phone away successfully for one and a half hours. But then again, we were talking about books and different styles of writing….keeping the phone away was easier there.

So I guess this isn’t bad for an uninspired person;

1) A lot of things are measured against a relative scale not an absolute one

2) We need to stop making leadership about changing the world but thinking about positively affecting each other

3) Being disconnected isn’t entirely bad. I should try it more often.

That’s it for today and don’t forget to add a comment on Four years and 413 posts later by tomorrow noon to get a chance to win a prize!

The Masks People Wear…Again

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Sometimes I find myself thinking that your friend’s answer to the question, “How are you?” defines the level of relationship especially if they’re having a bad day. If you two were really close and they were having a bad day, they would tell you, “I’m having a bad day but I don’t want to talk about it,” and you would understand. It wouldn’t effect your relationship. But if you’re not that close and you are honest about not wanting to talk about it, they might take offense, thinking, “They don’t trust me enough to talk about it.” That’s why it’s easier to just say, “I’m fine,” and leave it at that.

In general, there are two types of masks people wear (I can imagine a collective groan from you, Oh no, there she goes again since I’ve written about it here and here ), but anyhow…

There are those that are meant to be deceitful. They’re associated with cheating, lying, and essentially projecting a false image of oneself so others would approve of them. Then there are those you wear as a courteous move in order not to bother the world with your problems. Basically, you don’t want people to keep on bombarding you with ‘What’s wrong with you?’ and so you learn to hide under this mask. Which is not particularly that bad because our brain cells process tens and millions of thoughts, and having us project our thoughts incessantly can be both tiring for us and the poor listener. 

However, the existence of all these masks show you the standard depth (or not) of relationships nowadays. To really be friends with someone is to expose yourself, be vulnerable, and yet I guess we can concede that due to many disappointments it’s not always good to put yourself in that situation until the person proves to be trustworthy. So masks are easier to wear and take off when it’s appropriate. 

Then there is technology redefining relationships. It builds what could be called a virtual (online) mask. It can be deceitful and/or courteous. With virtual masks you can hide behind usernames, passwords, blogs and twitter handles and this is what I’m doing right here.

I personally find myself thinking about how technology seems to give us a false sense of connection. When I was young , I still remember how ‘calling home’ meant collecting coins, walking all the way to the call-box and screaming so people at the other side would hear us. But the people we called weren’t many. They were mainly relatives. And we called them on important occasions. Eid, wedding, …etc. Now years later, all it takes is a few taps on this device and you are immediately connected to people thousands of miles away…and you don’t have to scream (even though the older generation still do, but you get my drift). However, look at how long our list of contacts is. Just saving a number to your phone gives you the opportunity to immediately connect with them through whatsapp. And yet, how many of us really do? And when we do, how many of us go beyond the polite courtesies? If there is a story that needs to be told, calling works better. And even that removes the body language from the equation, so the impact isn’t as much as it would be if you can actually see people’s faces reacting to whatever you’re saying.

I was also thinking about how unfortunately dating has become so common in the Arab world nowadays despite it being unacceptable religiously. What I really don’t understand about people who get into it is how much can you really know somebody before marriage? Even if a couple has been together for so long (let’s say the eight years it takes for high school and university), one really can’t know a person completely until they’re married to them. The late-night phone calls and the outings…these are all controlled environments that help advance the plot and highlight specific character traits that the two sides intend on showing. However, when situations happen that really tests relationships after marriage, they end up breaking down completely at the seams, because they discover that this person they thought they loved before marriage has changed. But that makes you wonder if they have really changed or would that be the sound of the mask striking the floor as it is pulled off?

Think about it.
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Don’t forget to add a comment to this previous post before Nov. 18 to get a chance to win a prize!